Holi, the festival of colors, is right around the corner. Mix up some Holi color with your kids with these easy, natural recipes.
Holi is celebrated all over the world — not just in India, but also Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, the Caribbean, South Africa, and the U.S. — anywhere Hindu gods are worshiped or Indians have settled. It is a fun way to welcome the coming of Spring with plenty of Spring colors and because of that, many non-Indian Americans have started participating. In New York City, there’s a parade, the Phagwah Parade- held in Queens that is in its 24th year!
The Holi color fun happens the day after the first full moon in March, glorifying the end of winter, good harvests, and the fertility of the land. You know, all the usual things we like to throw a party for. (From an American point of view: the revelry is not unlike Mardis Gras that just ended in New Orleans, Louisiana – brightly colored, festive, and sometimes a little crazy).
There are multiple stories of the origins of Holi – read one version of the Holi story in the words of my son, but my favorite is the one that tells of the young Krishna and his love Radha:
Young Krishna, a typical, mischievous guy, complained to his mother Yashoda that Radha, his girlfriend, was a lighter skin tone than he was. Yashoda playfully suggested that because Radha had lighter skin, Krishna could put colors on her face to see how her skin would change.Krishna loved this idea and smeared his Radha with gulal (colors) of all hues. She did the same to him, and before long the entire village joined in, throwing powdered colors in the air and splashing each other with colored water. Krishna and Radha’s festivities became legendary and to this day we celebrate the Holi festival with colors of all hues!
There are more and more sites online with recipes for making colored powder or water that you can use with your kids. Making your own Holi colors can be fun and it avoids you dousing yourself and your children with some of the chemicals that are in modern dyes. Here are a few suggestions for making colored water, based on the recipes you may use to dye your Easter eggs in a few weeks.
How to make natural or organic Holi colors:
First, pick your colors and ingredients:
Lavender Purple grape juice
Blue Red cabbage leaves
Yellow Ground Cumin or Turmeric
Orange Chili powder or Paprika
Second, mix your chosen ingredients with water and a spoonful of vinegar and bring it to a boil. The measurements are very forgiving here. The more of the color ingredient you use, the stronger the color will be. You’ll want enough to make a mess, so maybe 4 cups of water per color is a good starting point, then adjust to match what your ingredients are. For example, I’d start with a head of cabbage, a bag of spinach, and a few beets. For the spices, which we all have in the kitchen, measure it out a spoon at a time until the water changes color.
(Read our earlier post on natural Holi colors- if you want more ideas!)
Mix up a few different colors, fill some Holi water balloons, (don’t forget to cool the dye first!) and let the craziness begin!
Don’t worry if you’re in a colder climate where water balloons just aren’t going to happen. Here is Holi video for your kids to enjoy- the story of Holi with legos!- or some fun Holi crafts you and your kids can make indoors.
Here’s wishing you a very Happy and colorful Holi!