Holi is a beautiful and colourful Indian festival, which is celebrated all over India and marks the beginning of spring. The legend is that Lord Vishnu saved his devotee, Prahalad, from a burning fire, while his evil aunt Holika burnt. The fire that is burnt on the night before holi, signifies this victory of good over evil. The reason for the colours used to celebrate holy come from another legend. Lord Krishna being dark, was worried that Radha would not like him, so in fun, he coloured her face as well. So the beautiful colours of gulal signify the love between Lord Krishna and Radha.
Why do we need to be careful while playing Holi?
The colours that were initially used to play holi, were natural colours like turmeric and flower extracts. These were gentle and good for the skin. Over the years synthetic colours have become available, in many different colours and are also much cheaper. But unfortunately most available gulal and other colours available these days, are made from chemicals which are harsh and even harmful to the skin. They can cause severe skin irritation, allergies, rashes and pigmentation. Sometimes with severe irritation, the skin may become infected as well. The chemicals can lead to severe irritation to the eyes and can affect the hair as well.
Dr. Anup Dhir, Senior Consultant, Cosmetic Surgeon, Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, says that while we should all enjoy the essence and colours of holi with our friends and family, it is important to be careful and take some precautions to keep ourselves safe.
Precautions to be taken
Most importantly use only gulal, which is so vibrant and beautiful and avoid using harsh water paints or colours. While buying gulal make sure it is made using natural products(herbal colours), is skin friendly and made by a reputable company. Red and pink shades are better, as colours like purple, green and yellow have more harmful chemicals in them.
These maybe a little more expensive, but it is definitely worth the money. At the start of the day, apply a generous amount of good skin cream or oil to the face and body and oil the hair well. Cover the nails of the hands and feet with nail polish. Wear clothes that cover the maximum part of your body. You could cover your hair with a scarf or cap. Also, it would be a good idea to apply coconut or mustard oil on your skin or hair. That makes the penetration o harmful chemicals difficult.
If Irritation occurs…
Wash off the colour from that part immediately using warm water and a gentle soap, rubbing softly with your hands. Do not scrub the skin with any harsh substance. On some soft cotton, use a cream cleanser or baby oil to gently remove the left over colour. If you are not allergic to nuts, you could use almond oil as well. Do not use kerosene, petrol etc. on the skin as these will dry the skin and cause further irritation. If all the color does not come off at the first go, do not try and scrub it off, let it be, it will slowly wear off with repeated washing over days. Wash the hair with warm water and a gentle shampoo. Splash the eyes with clean cool water to wash off any colour.
Once clean, moisturise the skin well, with cold cream or any other moisturiser meant for sensitive skin. You could use home made products as well, like a paste of soyabean flour or besan with milk. You can mix glycerine, sea salt and few drops of aroma oil which have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect and can mitigate the bad effects of chemical colours.
In case of a minor rash, apply soothing calamine lotion. Avoid sunlight in case the skin is seriously affected as it will increase the irritation. If the rash if not settling, looking red and angry, or if associated with any pain, or any serious eye irritation, see a doctor immediately.
On this auspicious full moon day that celebrates the victory of truth and goodness, enjoy the beautiful colours, rekindle the spirit of life and have a very Happy Holi!
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