India just celebrated “Holi- festival of colours” couple of days back, and it is so much of fun watching the madness spreading all over. It is just awe-inspiring seeing colours in the air and being in the hills the beginning of the madness could be felt well in advance- pine trees start shedding pollens and you can see tinge yellow layer on your vehicles parked in open. This is how for past few years I have been assuming on-coming Holi festival. The rush in the blood, madness in the air, and happiness all over inspire me about this festival and infuses loads of peace and serenity in the end. To be an Ayurvedic Physician have been the best thing in my life – I guess! It gives me an insight and connects me not only to the roots of Indian tradition but opens my mind to know and learn about other traditions as well. This time Holi left me with few questions. Why should I play Holi and is it only about fun or there is a bit more relevance to the festival of colours?
“Festival of colours - Holi” is celebrated in India on the eve of full moon of Falgun – Indian name for spring. It is the celebration of victory of the Truth over evil. It marks the beginning of the annual fairs and first trading get to gather. On the day of the Holi people gather in large number of groups and paint each other in multiple colours. Primarily the compassion is expressed by pouring water or coloured water on each other. My mind goes a mile to find a technical reason behind playing with colours, although organising fairs make sense as the Falgun is the time when officially cold wave begins to slow down and rise in temperature makes it easy to go out and make living, which had been made tough otherwise by severe cold wave.
· Holi is primarily played with water or coloured water. Out of the five elements of evolution, the water is responsible for union or bonding. The molecules of water have the property to unite loosely held particles together- everyone knows how it turns flour into dough. It represents compassion and love. Splashing water on each other marks the unity and oneness.
Also, during extreme winters people used to shirk bathing. During the winters skin becomes dry and dehydrated in lack of water. The custom of splashing water rehydrates skin, makes it supple, gives a fresh lease of life and it is a loving reminder to all those hydrophobic people about the importance of bathing.
· Ayurveda recommends application of various herbal pastes in the months Spring. As already said, during winters dehydrated skin accumulates loads of toxins and dead skin tissues. It makes skin look dull and lifeless. In view of removing dead skin layer and restore optimum blood circulation to the skin it logically makes sense to apply herbal pastes and formulations. Traditionally, Ayurveda have been a part of Indian life style. In a playful act doing things have been a part of this amazing culture and one of the oldest civilizations. Interestingly playing Holi with different colours was a part of annual skin cleanse. Although, we have lost our way in lack of an appropriate understanding of the tradition. Ayurveda recommends herbal formulations and colours extracted from natural resources. One can prepare colours from Natural resources for their use and trust me it doesn’t take too many efforts. It is healthy for skin and devoid of the allergies and fear of adverse reactions later.
· Dried leaves of Neem (Azadirachta indica) and Bilwa (Aegle marmelos) renders green tinge colour and is healthy for skin. It is proven for its bactericidal and cooling properties.
· Dried wheat grass, leaves of Mehndi (Lawsonia inermis), and leaves of Gulmohar (Delonix regia) render light green colour. One should keep the quantity of Mehndi leaves lesser to avoid momentary staining of the skin (although it is not bad but you might have to go to office next day).
· Traditionally Tesu/ Palash (Butea monosperma) have been a great source of red colour. It also comes in Orange colour. A powder prepared with dried flowers of Tesu, red sandalwood, saffron gives a beautiful colour and also very healthy for the skin. It enhances complexion of the skin, removes patches and pigmentation. One can also use Kabila fruits (Mallotus philippenesis) with dried flowers of Hibiscus and dried pomegranate seeds. It gives beautiful light brick red colour and enhances beauty mixed with fun while playing along.
· Dried red rose petals, fragrant red sandalwood and dried hibiscus petals are just a healthy retreat in the month of spring; show your colours in style.
· If you add lemon drops in the Turmeric, it gives an orange shade. I don’t need to explain the medicinal properties. Add fine powder of fuller’s earth and white sandalwood powder to the mix to get the right proportion of the colour. Trust, your skin would shine in the entire extravaganza around.
· Beet root juice and pulp of black grapes added with water is a perfect solution for that magenta splash on each other. You shouldn’t be worried if the splash goes in your mouth. I am sure no one would resist being soaked into this kind of Holi.
· For yellow fuller’s earth, dried yellow Marigold petals and hint of turmeric powder would not only enhance joy of the Holi but would dash up your skin too.
Ayurveda recommends that you should play Holi in its own style. It not only increases communal compassion but it is healthy too. After finding all those colours I don’t think that one should play Holi only for one day. In my opinion with these preparations you should play Holi all through the spring. In case you don’t find partner you can enjoy these colours on your own, soak yourself in the colour you want.