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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Holi colors: Their potent effects

(Nature's Own Holi)
Colors and Holi go hand in hand.  Whether the red shades of gulal (dry powders), or the green shades of rang (wet pastes), colors are a way of honoring the spiritual love between Krishna and Radha. 

Holi colors are integrally related to the material world also.
According to, the hues of Holi were originally part and parcel of the flowers that bloomed each spring.  Dyes were extracted from these medicinal plants, and were then healthfully applied to the skin.  Unfortunately, nature’s own colors are now being replaced by industrial concoctions that contain many harmful chemicals.

According to results from studies done by Toxic Links and Vatavaran (two Delhi-based environmental groups), the following toxic chemicals were found in many of today’s Holi colorants (associated health risks are listed within the parentheses):  lead oxide (renal failure); copper sulphate (eye allergy); aluminum bromide (carcinogenic); Prussian blue and Gentian violet (dermatitis); and heavy metals (asthma, skin and eye diseases).

Fortunately, there are still ways of either making or buying healthful Holi colorants.  Many companies are now specializing in eco-friendly Holi products.  It is also relatively simple to extract colors from common kitchen products.  Henna leaves can be used for an orange/red paste.  Yellow powder can be made from a mixture of turmeric and chick-peas.  Beets will yield a deep pink.

Even more fortunately, colors - in and of themselves – can be markedly therapeutic.  According to, color therapy was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece and China.  It was specifically mentioned in documents such as the Nei Ching (2000 year-old Chinese book of medicine), The Canon of Medicine (1000 year-old Arabian book by Avicenna), and The Theory of Color (Goethe’s 1810 German research study).

In 1933, Indian scientist Dinshah Ghadiali published a book,The Spectro Chrometry Encyclopedia, which laid the foundation for modern color therapy.  According to Wikipedia, Ghadiali believed that “colors represent chemical potencies in higher octaves of vibration… and for each organism and system of the body there is a particular color that stimulates and another that inhibits the work of that organ or system.”

There seems to be much innate wisdom in the association of colors with Holi-ness.  If God’s own palette of plants and sunshine were to once again prevail, the Holi colors could be quite healing for body, mind, heart and soul.


Copyright March 23, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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