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Homegrown colours

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COLOUR COLLECTIVE The ingredients for the colours have been grown by women farmers in Sirsi and packaging done by the women's cell in Yerawada Jail, Pune
COLOUR COLLECTIVE The ingredients for the colours have been grown by women farmers in Sirsi and packaging done by the women's cell in Yerawada Jail, Pune

This Holi, play with natural colours, produced in our very own state and available at leading stores in the city

A splash of red and a smattering of green need not leave you scarred and injured for life. Join the movement for going natural with your colours this holi, and keep toxic substances out of your eyes, skin and hair.The Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group based in Pune started this safe festival campaign in 2002 and has ever since worked towards talking to the public about the ill effects of using bright colours made with industrial dyes. Together with eCoexist, they have brought into the market a series of natural colours under the brand name Rang Dulaar. "Ingredients used in these colours are clearly listed on the packs. We have used natural ingredients such as turmeric, rice flour, lemon juice, leaves, and red earth to create these colours," says Sunita Rao of Kalpavriksh.Interestingly, there is a Karnataka link to these colours. All the ingredients for the colours have been grown by women farmers of the Malnad Home Garden and Seed Exchange Collective, in Sirsi, Karnataka. Various groups have worked over four years along with researchers to come up with the colours and develop the recipes.For the holi festival this year, these women farmers have been able to produce one-and-a-half tonnes of colour, to be mixed with other natural ingredients to produce the packaged products. The women's cell of Pune's Yerawada Jail has packed the colours this year. "Most of us involved in this project are not business-savvy people," admits Rao, herself an environmental researcher and part of a women's collective. "Even if people are not buying our natural colours we are trying to create an awareness that they can make their own colours at home, as part of our campaign," she says. Colours available currently from their stables include red, yellow and green. The whole aim of this campaign is to also remind people that Holi is essentially a festival that celebrates spring, a time when several trees are in bloom. Most of the colours in days gone by were derived from natural plant materials. Red, for example came from the Indian Coral Tree or the Safflower. Gradually with the disappearance of these trees, natural colours started getting replaced by cheaper industrial dyes, bulk produced in factories.Rang Dulaar will be available in six Indian cities including Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Baroda and Delhi. In Bangalore these colours can be bought at the following stores: Bombay Store (M.G. Road), all outlets of Namdhari, Green Channel (Cunningham Road), DESI (South End Circle), 24 Letter Mantra (Indiranagar) and Native Place (Museum Road). Packs of 200 gms come for Rs. 40 (single colour); 300 gms for Rs. 60 (three colours). For information contact Sunita Rao on 94802-99200.Colours that kill* Green contains copper sulphate that can cause eye allergies, puffiness and temporary blindness* Black contains lead oxide that could lead to renal failure* Silver contains aluminium bromide that has been found to be carcinogenic * Red contains mercury sulphite that is highly toxic and could cause skin cancer Make your colours at home:* For yellow mix turmeric with besan* For deep pink and red, slice beetroot and soak in water or try dried hibiscus flowers/ rose petals* Boil marigold in water for shades of yellow and orange * For orange-red shades try mehendi or henna leaves(Information courtesy: Kalpavriksh)

BHUMIKA K.

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