Safe colours movement

Print edition : April 19, 2013

At the Society for Child Development in Delhi, making colours with flowers collected from temples. Photo: Courtesy: eCoexist

FOR the past three years the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has purchased safe Holi colours made by a Pune-based social enterprise, eCoexist, and distributed them as part of its commitment to promote a safe and natural Holi.

The fact that the MPCB has endorsed the colours encourages other organisations also to buy them. The colours are made from turmeric and other herbal ingredients and have been found to be safe in laboratory tests. The colours are made from natural materials by underprivileged groups, who also do the packaging. Thus, besides being a textbook example of building environmental awareness, this creates an earning opportunity for the poor and also promotes social inclusiveness. This year the colours were made by Niramaya Mahila Bachat Ghat, a women’s self-help group in Pune, and the Society for Child Development in Delhi, which works with mentally challenged young adults. The pink colour came from flowers that were collected from temples. The campaign to collect them had the double bonus of recycling the flowers and keeping the Yamuna, into which the flowers would otherwise have been thrown, free of organic pollutants.

The flowers were given to children who had been trained to convert them into the vibrant pinks and reds that are the favourites of Holi enthusiasts. Manisha Gutman, founder of eCoexist, says that they have promoted the use of natural colours, which market under the name Rang Dulaar, for nearly eight years in nearly 13 cities in the country.

Lyla Bavadam

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