Energy Diet

How Green Are Your Festivals?

This Sunday India celebrated festival of colors called Holi. In this festival, people throw colored powder and water at each other. I could not resist bringing some green thinking to this. A lot of water and color is consumed during this festival, and I noticed that the colors used are mostly chemical-based and very unsafe for the skin. They also pollute water and soil.

Some of the colors are actually combination of industrial dyes mixed with engine oil. From Hinduism.about.com I came to know that green comes from copper sulphate, purple is chromium iodide, silver is aluminum bromide, black is lead oxide and shiny colors are result of powdered glass being added to the colors.

Lack of control over the quality and content of these colors is a big problem, as they are frequently sold by vendors who do not know their origin. There is also a lot of concern about the large scale waste of water and water-pollution due to synthetic colors used in Holi celebration.

 

India Holi Colors

India Holi Colors

 

 

No one likes to be preached at, especially at a festival, but spreading any vital green idea is very important. But I realized that once people get to know what kind of impact these colors have on the environment, they ask, ‘Why aren’t we doing something about this?’  I urged people to use natural colors made at home. Who wouldn’t  like to use eco-friendly color powders and pastes that are actually the natural extracts from flowers, vegetables and minerals.

Another serious environmental problem are bonfires, which happen the night before this festival. Estimating that one bonfire uses around 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of wood, and there must be around 80,000 such bonfires in the northern states of India, this is huge amount of wood.  Waste material cannot be used for this, as this is for a religious purpose — not for entertainment.

Like many other festivals, Holi too has become a complete commercialized festival and another source of environmental degradation. I am sure that in the coming years, once enough awareness is created, people will come forward and create a movement to make festivals a little more environmentally friendly.

 

Comments

  1. Siba
    Gurgaon, India
    March 22, 2011, 12:14 am

    Nice thought Yogesh. If you see Holi is no longer celebrated with same fervor. I think people are getting more aware especially in urban areas; People are focusing on buying colors that’s not harmful e.g. herbal colors. Awareness is an issue with rural belt where majority of Indian population is. But it’s always the urban population that is doing more damage to environment than those in rural areas. I must say that urban population have now started focusing on social aspects of festivals (get-togethers, reconnecting with friends etc.) rather than burning more crackers or playing with more color.

  2. Christina Nunez
    March 22, 2011, 4:14 pm

    This is illuminating, Yogesh. It sounds like such a beautiful festival, but when you reveal what’s potentially involved chemically, it’s very ugly.

  3. boudour
    Abu Dhabi,UAE
    March 26, 2011, 2:23 am

    I believe that this is a celebration for all of us on our hard work; We Al Nowais family would love to share this hour with all of u. http://www.beyondthehour.org/#/Act/86012