Awareness and Safety Tips
Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated widely in India known as the colour festival. There are many stories and legends told on this day how ‘good’ triumphs over ‘bad’. During the festival people come together and renew relationships spreading the ‘good’ and love to everyone. People give out hugs and shower them in coloured powders, wishing each other ‘Happy Holi’. At this time, there is no divide among stature or wealth, everyone is equal.
It is an ancient festival celebrated on Phalgun Purnima, (which is the end of winter, on the day after the full moon in March). The celebrations begin with lighting an enormous bonfire on the eve of Holi. The lighting of the bonfire is called Holika Dahan, this marks the start of the occasion and burns away evil spirits.
The festival is filled with joyous singing, happiness and music. Coloured powders are thrown at each other to signify; purity (red), pious feeling (yellow), vitality (green), calm and sedateness (blue).
If you are celebrating, here are a few awareness and safety tips to keep in mind during the celebrations.
Potential Harm to Health
Many coloured powders are bought in from manufactures just because its more cost effective to buy them pre-made. The down side to this is that a lot of manufactured products that contain chemicals can cause potential harm to health. In India, it is very common for people to visit their doctor after Holi celebrations due to skin irritations and eye infections.
A lot of chemical colours that are on the market contain a mixture of engine oils mixed with oxidized metals or industrial dyes such as; mercury sulphate, lead oxide, chromium iodide, copper sulphate, or aluminium bromide. The effects of products using these substances can cause serious illnesses such as; bronchial asthma, renal failures, skin cancer, impaired vision or temporary blindness, and paralysis. As well as these chemicals having a dramatic effect on your health they also have an effect on the environment when they are washed into the rivers or absorbed through the soil.
Keeping Yourself Safe
As Holi is a celebration of love and all that is good here’s some top tips for keeping yourself safe from harm:
- Choose herbal colours, even have a go at making your own natural colours.
- Apply a generous amount of moisturiser to your face, arms and legs BEFORE you attend the festival and again after you’ve washed off the colours.
- Wear clothes that cover the majority of your body so you’re not exposed, wear long sleeves and long trousers.
- Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses. If you do get dye in your eyes, DO NOT rub them and wash them out with distilled water. Seek medical advice if necessary.
- Apply an oil to your hair and wear a hat. Some colours can dry out your hair dramatically leaving it brittle, frizzy and damaged.
- If the colour goes in your mouth, swill and gargle with clean water immediately. DO NOT ingest the substance. If you think you have ingested the substance and you feel unwell (stomach/throat irritation) seek medical help from your doctor.
- When washing off the colours use mild soaps and shampoos. DO NOT use abrasive chemicals as they could cause you damage.
With all that said, enjoy your Holi celebrations!