Kolkata: Holi is one of the most colourful and vibrant festivals of India. And while the bhang and gujiyas, the singing and dancing, the mischief and drenching in colours are great fun, the aftermath can sometimes be unpleasant, with some people left suffering from skin rashes, eye allergies and discoloration of hair.
However, chemicals and industrial dyes, some of them toxic, slowly replaced flowers and herbs. These can cause some serious damage to skin, and discoloration, dermatitis, abrasion, irritation, itching, rashes, eczema and dryness are some of the common reactions reported by dermatologists post-Holi.
Organic colours (aabir) made from natural materials, like flowers, have been known to be health-friendly compared to artificial colours, which can cause a lot of issues like rashes, itches and other harmful diseases of the skin and eyes.
In view of this, the Bengal Government’s Food Processing Industries and Horticulture Department has tied up with a self-help group (SHG) to sell this type of aabir from its Mayukh Bhawan headquarters. Outlets would soon be opened at the City Centre 1 and 2 malls, and mobile outlets (that is, vans) would travel the streets of Rajarhat, New Town and Salt Lake.
The 15 women of the SHG have been trained by Jadavpur University, which has done pioneering work in this field. The aabir has been branded ‘Krishnendu Bheshaj Aabir’ (‘Krishnendu Organic Colours’).
The colours are being made by processing the petals of primarily rose, flame of the forest (palash), butterfly pea (aparajita) and marigold (genda). Rose water is being used to provide the fragrance.
Since the SHG is buying the flowers directly from flower cultivators, both the cultivators as well as the women of the SHG are earning through the selling of the colours.