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Holi. We all love it. Children specially! It’s all about the brilliant colours we play around with. The very special foods that we, sometimes, binge on. The fun, the merry-making, the laughter and the joy that binds us all together in one big explosion of happiness.

Holi is often seen as the end of dark, cold winters, the victory of good over evil, love over hate. It is a day in which revellers come together, mend fractured relationships, strengthen family bonds, renew friendships and enjoy each other’s company in a happy, celebratory way.

The duration of Holi celebrations vary depending on where it is celebrated. In some areas it is celebrated for two days. In others, it is celebrated up to five days. Whatever the duration, most of the traditions are common to all. The first day generally begins with a bonfire, which commemorates the burning of Holika – from whom the word ‘holi. Is derived. The bonfire, and the ritual lighting of it symbolizes good triumphing over evil.

The fun really begins the next day! With copious amounts of plant-based coloured powders and water guns filled with coloured water in their arsenal, people get together and smother themselves and others, with colour. It is a time of great jubilation and joy. Once it’s over, people meet and greet friends and families, exchanging sweets, good wishes and blessing each other. Celebrations often end with a great feast at the end of the festivities.

This festival is a time when people not only enjoy each other’s company but it’s also an opportunity for people to free themselves of the many social restrictions and taboos that have to be endured during the rest of the year. During Holi, it doesn’t matter what sex, caste or age people are. It doesn’t matter if they are men or women, employer or employee, or whether they are rich or poor. They all have great fun together.

How to enjoy Holi – safely.

However, your family’s and your own health, should not be compromised for the sake of fun. For instance, many people participate in activities which aren't really safe or healthy. Such as using colours with harmful chemicals mixed in. These chemicals could penetrate the top layer of your skin causing severe acne and allergic rashes. Or get into your eyes, nose or mouth causing irreparable damage. And there are people who purchase sweets and other food  which might be adulterated and lead to digestive problems and other illnesses. Here are some tips for enjoying Holi safely.

Stay well hydrated.

To start with, drink plenty of water throughout the day. You might get really dehydrated due to all the running around, chasing your family and friends. Since Holi falls at the beginning of summer, when the heat has already started setting in, it's essential that you drink enough water.

Check your khoya for any adulteration

For those who make mithai at home, adulterated khoya and mawa are very common during Holi. Test these ingredients for purity before you put them in the sweets you are making.

Use natural homemade colours if you can

Store-bought Holi colours could harm your skin and hair. These are quite often mixed up with harmful chemicals, automobile grease and used cooking oils. Natural colours, made from flowers such as marigold and kitchen ingredients like sandalwood and turmeric, are much safer and healthier.

Use natural ingredients from your kitchen to remove colour

Try not to use harsh chemical shampoos and soaps to get rid of the colour from your skin and hair. Use ingredients such as wheat flour powder and lemon to gently remove the colours. And use organic creams and lotions to wipe away any residual colour.

Wash your hands before you touch any food

A lot of colours are in the form of fine powders. These tend to get mixed up in boxes of dry fruits, nuts and sweets that you offer your guests. Make sure you keep your food covered during all the merriment.  Plus, wash your hands properly every time you reach for that plate of delicacies.

Play Holi safely and without hurting anyone

In all the melee and running around, it’s possible to get hurt or hurt someone by accident. Make sure this doesn’t happen. Don’t roughhouse with your friends. Stop the kids from getting overly aggressive. You can have fun, and enjoy all the colours floating around without grappling or manhandling your friends and family.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy Holi!

BY THIYAGARAJAN VELAYUTHAM, FOUNDER, IHHC | 15TH MARCH, 2019

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