Holi is synonymous with colours, which bring joy when smeared on each other. Hot pink gulal, deep green, sunny yellow — each colour has a relevance in our lives. And adding another dimension to them is the human emotion to spread love among everyone by making them part of the festival. Various organisations in Delhi-NCR have involved the underprivileged and marginalised to make herbal colours, ahead of this festival, which is a symbol of equality.
Flower power into play!
“We had started out to create awareness on child literacy among the underprivileged. That’s when the mothers of young children approached to us to help them find employment. This led to the idea of conceiving an initiative wherein we recycle unused flowers from temples and wedding halls to make herbal gulal,” says Shalini Kapoor from a Gurugram-based NGO Yatan, adding, “This has helped us improve the motor skills of the children at the NGO, as they are the ones who separate the petals of the flowers. And we involve them so that they learn the importance of recycling. The flowers are then handed over to eight women who make gulal out of them and package it.”
Festive hues reform the imprisoned
At Tihar Central Jail, around 15 adolescent convicts from sub jail number five have been engaged in making dry herbal gulal from starch, edible-grade hues and natural fragrances. Mukesh Prasad, Additional Inspector General, Tihar, informs that all inmates working on this project have been provided face masks and gloves for safety and hygiene. “The gulal we make here is completely natural. And we also test this product at labs, and have recently even opened a kiosk at Tis Hazari court to sell these,” says Prasad.
The prisoners are making Holi colours in vibrant shades, which are available at ₹50 for 100g.
Restoring vibrancy in lives
At Antarkranti, which caters to the reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners, around 55 released convicts are trained and employed to make herbal and aromatic gulal. “80% of the released prisoners we enrolled were below the poverty line. Through this initiative, they are able to earn for their families, with dignity,” says Sadhvi Jaya Bharti, from Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan.
In Delhi’s Bawana Industrial area, men make gulal while women package these at a setup in Mangolpuri Industrial area. “For packaging, we use recycled paper and water soluble ink that is biodegradable,” adds Bharti, informing that a pack of five bright Holi colours is priced at ₹699.
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika