Joined: 12 December 2012
Raang in Holi
Harmful chemical colors are the perils of Holi. Have you ever wondered how to make the festival of colors natural and healthy for our environment and ourselves? Did you know that Holi can be fun and harmless if you play with environment-friendly natural colors. These are not only cheap but can also be made easily at home.
Our World of Colors
Explore the fascinating world of natural colors. Experiment with different flowers, fruits and vegetables (like black grapes, dried fruits of amla/gooseberry), leaves (eucalyptus), plants (arandi/castor). Encourage the use of eco-friendly natural colors and motivate our friends to do so.
Save Your Skin from Chemical Colors
Most Holi colors sold in the market are oxidized metals or industrial dyes mixed with engine oil. Sample this: Green comes from copper sulphate, purple is chromium iodide, silver is aluminum bromide, black is lead oxide and shiny colors are result of powdered glass being added to the colors. All these are toxic and can result in anything from skin allergies, eye irritation, blindness and much more. When washed, they enter the rivers and the soil and increase pollution.
Chemical Colors, Compositions and Health Effects
Lead Oxide (Black): Renal failure, learning disability
Copper Sulphate (Green): Eye allergy, temporary blindness
Chromium Iodide (Purple): Bronchial asthma, allergies
Aluminium Bromide (Silver): Carcinogenic
Mercury Sulphite (Red): Skin cancer, minamata
Play Holi the Vedic Way
By using safe, natural colors we not only save our skins but also help save our environment and conserve our biodiversity. When these colors percolate into the soil and water they do not add toxicity to our blue planet, and cause no harm to the myriad life forms that live in the soil and water. Thereby, we also popularize the diverse plants and trees that give us these colors, and live life the Vedic way, our ancient and most precious heritage.
Here're all the recipes that'll make your Holi naturally colorful! Learn how to get reds, greens, blues, saffrons, yellows and magentas from fruits, vegetables, flowers and cereals... all at home.
Dry: Red Sandalwood Powder / Raktachandan / Lalchandan (Pterocarpus santalinus)has a beautiful red color, which is beneficial for the skin and is used for face packs, etc. This can be used instead of Red gulal. Dry red hibiscus flowers in the shade and powder it to make a lovely red color. To increase the bulk add any flour to it, in proportion to the vibrancy of the color you want to obtain. Sinduria (Annato) has a water chestnut shaped fruit, which contains lovely brick color red seeds. These yield both dry and wet colors.
Wet: Put two teaspoons of Red Sandalwood powder in five litres of water and boil. Dilute with 20 litres of water. Peels of Red Pomegranate boiled in water give red.
Mix a pinch of lime powder (the one that we eat with our paan / betel leaves) in half a cup of water and add 2 table spoon of haldi (turmeric) powder in it. Mix it thoroughly. Use only after diluting with 10 litres of water.
Buras (Rhododentron arboreum) known as Burans in the Garhwal hills and Brand in the Kumaon hills of India gives a lovely red color when soaked in water overnight. ThePalita Madar / Pangri / Indian Coral tree (Erythrina indica), found commonly in coastal regions, has large red flowers. Soak the flowers in water overnight.
Boil wood of Madder Tree in water for a deep red. Red color can also be obtained from juice of tomatoes and carrots. This can be diluted with sufficient quantity of water to remove the stickiness.
Dry: Use mehendi / henna powder (not mixed with amla) separately or mix with equal quantity of any flour to attain a lovely green shade. Dry mehendi will not leave color on your face as it can be easily brushed off. Only mehendi mixed in water might leave a slight color on your face. Many people like smearing other person's hair with colors. How about doing it with mehendi powder and saving a trip to the parlor? Dry and finely powder the leaves of Gulmohur tree for a green. Crush the tender leaves of the Wheat plant to obtain a natural safe green Holi color.
Wet: Mix two teaspoons of mehendi in one litre of water. Stir well. Green color can also be obtained by mixing a fine paste of leaves like spinach / palak, coriander / dhaniya, mint /pudina, etc. in water.
Wet: Slice or grate one Beet root. Soak in 1 litre of water for a wonderful magenta. Leave overnight for a deeper shade. Dilute with water. Boil the peels of 10-15 onions in half litre of water for an orangish-pink color. Remove the peels before using to remove the smell.
Wet: The Flame of the Forest (Butea monosperma), known as Tesu, Palash or Dhakin Indian languages, is the source of the wonderful, traditional color for Holi. The flowers are soaked overnight in water and can also be boiled to obtain a fragrant yellowish orange colored water. Legends say Lord Krishna used to play Holi with Tesu flowers, which also have some medicinal properties. Boil flowers petals of Semul / Silk Cotton, a red variety of Bombax ceiba) in water. BothTesu and Semul bloom during February-March.
Collect and dry the stalks of Harashringar / Parijatak (Nyctanthes arbontristis)flowers during the early winter season. Soak them in water to get a pleasant orange color.
Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder in 1 litre of water for an instant, beautiful and fragrant saffron color.
Soak a few stalks of Saffron / Kesar in 2 table spoons of water. Leave for few hours and grind to make a fine paste. Dilute with water for desired color strength. Though expensive, it is excellent for the skin.
Dry: Mix two teaspoons of haldi / turmeric powder with double the quantity of besan (gram flour). Haldi and besan are extremely healthy for our skin, and are also used widely as a ubtan while taking bath. You can use the ordinary haldi or "kasturi" haldi which is very fragrant and has enhanced therapeutic effects. Besan can be substituted by wheat / rice / arrowroot flour or talcum powder.
Flowers like Amaltas (Cassia fistula), Marigold / Gainda (Tagetus erecta), and Yellow Chrysanthemums yield different shades of yellow. Dry the petals of these floweres in shade and crush them to obtain a fine powder. Take appropriate quantity of the powder and mix it with besan or use separately.
Dry the rind of the Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos) and grind to obtain a yellow colored powder.
Wet: Add one teaspoon of haldi to two litres of water and stir well. This can be boiled to increase the concentration of color and further diluted. Soak 50 marigold flowers in 2 litres of water. Boil and leave overnight.
Dry: Jacaranda flowers can be dried in the shade and ground to obtain a beautiful blue powder. The flowers bloom in summers. The blue Hibiscus (found in Kerala) can be dried and powdered.
Wet: Crush berries of the Indigo tree and add to water for desired color strength. In some Indigo species the leaves when boiled in water yield a rich blue.
All About Bhang.
Bhang adds a kick, but an overdose can take the fun out of your Holi. Here's all you need to know about the desi cannabis, before trying it.
Holi, for any spirited Delhiwalla means rang aur bhang ki masti. The natural intoxicant made from the leaves and flowers of the female cannabis plant has been used in India during certain religious rituals for ages.
The law that makes it illegal to possess the psychoactive becomes low-priority during festivals such as Holi and Shivratri. For many, bhang is believed to be fun booster. While there are a few government authorised shops in Delhi that sell bhang, sweet shops and paan shops too sell bhang during Holi. To add a dash of fun into their festive preparations, a lot of people whip up bhang-based dishes at home, which range from jalebis to gol gappa to thandai, pakora, laddoos, kulfis, sherbat and even papads.
The traditional connect
Bhang features as an anxiety releaser in the ancient holy text and one of the four Vedas ' the Atharvaveda. Bhang is associated with Lord Shiva, as it is believed that he discovered the transcendental properties of the cannabis. While bhang is popularly consumed in Mathura, making and drinking bhang is a part of the mystic charm of the holy town of Varanasi, that's consigned to Lord Shiva's worship. Bhangis prepared on the ghats of the city.
How's bhang made
The flowers (buds) and leaves of female cannabis are ground into a paste with the help of mortar and pestle. Ghee, milk and spices are added to this mix. That's how the bhang base is made; it could be used for making thandai, bhang lassi, halwa, laddoo or pakoras.
What's good about it
Ayurveda has made use of bhang's medicinal properties since ages. It helps release anxiety and gives a sound, peaceful sleep, and is also believed to fight depression. It is also a cure for ailments such as fever, dysentery, arthritis, sunstroke, nausea and vomiting, rigid muscles and indigestion.
Bhang overdose can lead to serious health complications. Those who have too much bhang suffer from temporary psychosis, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Who must not have bhang
If you suffer from heart problems, high BP, or nerve related diseases, you must avoid bhang intake. "For such patients, an overdose of bhang can prove fatal," warns Dr Surbhi Bali, chief nutritionist, Fortis, Vasant Kunj. Overdose can also leave you with damaged digestive tracks and even lead to hepatitis in extreme cases. Bhang can also lead to respiratory tracks damage. "Those who are asthmatic should also never consume bhang," says Dr Viveka Kumar, head, cardiology, Max Healthcare.
Getting a safe high
Keep your bhang-laced goodies away from the reach of kids and pets. Do not consume bhang empty stomach, or else it can hit you badly. "Always make sure to have some snacks before and after consuming bhang. It will help neutralise the effect of bhang," says Dr Surbhi Bali, chief nutritionist, Fortis, Vasant Kunj.
Never ever mix bang with alcohol. Youngsters often do this for an extra kick, but it can have fatal results.
Tackle side effects
Herbal cure: Have a cup of herbal tea such as rose tea or jasmine tea; it will reduce the headache and help counter the effects of bhang.
Lemon water: Lemon water is a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C; it helps prevent the formation of free radicals.
Hydrate your system: Have lots of water, as it will flush out intoxicants from your body. Dehydration makes the hangover worse.
Benefits of Bhang
Holi is close and preparations have sprung in different parts of the country. Of all the things that Holi is about, the most important is bhang, the absence of which can leave the celebrations incomplete. So much for drinking bhang and its aftermath, what goes unnoticed is the fact that drinking bhang has several benefits. Here are some.
Unlike alcohol, the after-effects of which is similar to Bhang, the latter is deep rooted in the lives of Hindus. It has been a part of the Hindu culture since 1000 B.C. Described as a stress releaser in the scriptures of ancient India, Bhang is considered a must-have on Holi. It has special reference in the Atharvaveda, which is an important scripture in India. The drink is particularly associated with Lord Shiva as per mythology, which explains the discovery of Bhang's transcendental properties to have been made by Lord Shiva. Sufis and Sadhus have been known to use Bhang to boost meditation and achieve a transcendental phase. Sufis use the drink to attain spiritual ecstasy.
Bhang is medically termed as Cannabis Sativa and is widely used in Ayurvedic treatments ever since the herb's discovery by humans. The medical properties of Bhang help in releasing stress and anxiety and the herb is therefore, used as an intoxicant. It aids in inducing sleep. Besides, bhang is used in treating several ailments such as nausea, pain, vomiting, weight loss, neurologically induced spasticity etc.
If taken in the right quantity, bhang can cure fever, severe sunstroke, dysentery, phlegm etc and quicken digestion. In several parts of the country, people drink bhang before the main meal in moderate amounts as they believe that the drink not only enhances the taste of the food but also quickens and improves digestion. It is also believed to be therapeutic in lisping, speech imperfection and in healing hearing problems.
Bhang can treat many medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, depression etc. Moreover, it has also proven to be effective in treating skin problems.
Having talked about the benefits of Bhang, one must not overlook the fact that the benefits of Bhang surface only if it is taken in moderate amounts. If taken in excess, bhang can pump the heart rate up, cause psychosis and blood pressure. Here are a few tips that you must keep in mind before and when consuming bhang. [Read: Tips to Deal with Bhang Hangovers]
' Never consume bhang on empty stomach. Munch on some food such as snacks before consuming bhang.
' Never mix bhang with alcohol.
' Keep bhang-laced drinks as well as snacks away from children.
' Avoid it completely if you suffer from heart problems, have high blood pressure or have nerve diseases.
Revelling in bhang is one of the traditions of Holi festivities. Bhang lassi is one of the drinks prepared for enjoying on the day. Along with buds and leaves of cannabis, other ingredients that are used to make the lassi are milk, ghee, nuts and spices.
Ingredients for Bhang Lassi:
Procedure of making Bhang Lassi:
This is the basic recipe for making bhang lassi and you can add a few more ingredients to make it taste better. Ghee or spices are some of these ingredients that give a unique flavour and aroma to the drink. Watermelon, poppyseeds, aniseed, cardamom powder, gulkand, gulab jal (rose essence) are some of the other ingredients that are used to make the drink much more worth drinking. You can add more of these and actually reap a lot of health benefits rather than getting high with cannabis.
In some homes, the cannabis content is kept so low that it does not really result into any sort of intoxication and neither any hangover in the morning next. Yoghurt is another ingredient that can be mixed with the above and blended to give a wonderful refreshing drink. So, you can enjoy the festive spirit with a healthy concoction of herbs, nuts and spices and revel in taking cannabis along with them.
Having bhang is an integral part of Holi celebrations in India. The herbal blend made from the buds and leaves of cannabis plant is enjoyed along with the festivities of smearing and drenching everyone with colour. Bhang is prepared with milk, dry fruits and spices along with the cannabis. It is common to get a hangover which can result in headache, nausea or problems of the digestive system.
In order to keep your hangover at bay, follow the tips given below:
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