Sunday 4th of March is an auspicious day for all Hindus. It is Holi, the festival of color, representing the victory of good over evil. This festival has been celebrated for centuries. With the progress of time, the enthusiasm to participate and remember our past has not changed. However, in the time of modernization, industrialization, globalization and economization a lot has changed. Substandard quality products populate the Indian market. One such product is the Synthetic colors sold at the time of Holi for human application.
A majority of synthetic colors promoted in the market have some form of toxins and chemicals present in them. The only difference between most brands is the quantity used of these toxins and chemicals. Many of these colors sold are in fact dyes meant for industrial use, i.e. dyes for textiles, hence, not suitable for "Human Application". But none the less, they are still sold openly in markets. With not licensing required and no governing body to oversee quality, the situation has been getting worse over the years.
Most of these colors have been found to include heavy metals, alkalis, powered glass and acids. The use of these toxin colors has reported to result in anything from skin allergies to cancer, irritation of the eye to permanent blindness.
A survey conducted by several independent bodies on different occasions and locations have found the following ingredient used to make some of the common colors used to play holi:
» The black paste - Lead oxide
» Green colour - Copper sulphate
» Red colour - Mercury sulphite
» Gulal - Silic
While silver - Aluminum bromide, which is carcinogenic (a chemical that is believed to cause cancer.)
It is believed that using Oils, creams and covering up will help to protect the body from these toxins. But in fact these chemicals can enter the body through the nose, mouth, skin, nails and cause havoc to your health despite all your efforts.
Perhaps it can be argued that the Indian government isn't doing enough to protect the safty of its citizens. And its high time that they lay down a certification mechanism for manufacturers of these colors to protect the consumers rights.
However, the bottom line is that people need to become more concerned with what they are buying and from whom they are buying. As a community one requires to boycott the buying of substandard colors.
There are several organizations that are trying to create awareness on how to make your own safe colors.
It is quite ironic how we spend the whole year round taking the utmost care of our skins and bodies, and on Holi we do not take the time to be safe and play safe.