"A Holi of Love: Play and enjoy the festivities but don’t forget to save"

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Holi; one word, two syllables, and yet it acts as infinite pool of energy, joy and love. Whether you want to celebrate the victory of good over evil, the transition from cold and blistery winter to a warmer and chirpy spring season, or merely claim it as a season of love, warmth and colours, Holi would provide you a reason to celebrate. From the colours, to the food, and love and hysteria of celebrating with your friends and family is enough to lighten up the mood of even the haughtiest of men. However, increasingly in these celebrations, we are witnessing a different side of Holi that would put a damp blot, quite literally. Here are a few key points that we, as a society ought to take a note of while we celebrate Holi this year:

1.The amount of wood burnt for Holika Dahan and its effect on the environment

The legend of Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu and his sister Holika, has now been etched inside the hearts of children as the perfect story of victory of good over evil. However, over the recent years, this story has become a tad polluted, per say. Every year almost 30,000 bonfires are burnt as a symbol, and approximately 100 kilograms of wood is employed to sustain the fire. And even though the embers keep on burning for a symbolic victory, using this much amount of wood, releases almost 5 million kilos of carbon dioxide gas in the environment, which is detrimental to say the least. With the rising levels of pollution, especially across the major cities, we should try and reduce the amount of wood burnt, by potentially using wood pellets and paper bricks. These sim
ple measures will help safeguard our environment and also keep the festivities alive!

2. The amount of water consumed for playing Holi

After Holika Dahan, arrives the day that many wait for the whole year long. As soon as the sunlight hits, children are up, filling up buckets of water, mixing it with colours, lining up their pichkaaris, and getting ready with their target practice thanks to their water balloons. Meanwhile, the adults are ready with plates of dry colours, gujiyas and Holi Milan. However, what we fail to realise is how much water we collectively use while playi
ng Holi - roughly 35 million people play Holi with water every year, and with roughly 3 buckets of water (approximately 45 litres) used per person, we are looking at possibly 1.5 billion litres of water! Some of this could indeed be put to use for cooking delicious meals, watering your plants and much more. Again a little mindfulness from our side could go a long way in making this Holi much more fun and fulfilling!

The other major reason why we should take a hard look at the water consumption during Holi is the scarcity of usable water in our country. A total number of 76 million people have little to no access to safe drinking water, and have to go lengths in order to acquire it. Moreover, close to 10% water sources in India are contaminated, one way or the other, and the government spends roughly 3.4 lakh crore rupees just to provide water to the rural homes. With these mind boggling numbers in mind, maybe it is time that we start thinking about how to best utilise water, a commodity that is so precious to our lives.

3. Who is actually effected while playing with colours

In a study done by Scholars Research Library, it was found out that roughly 80% of the children and teenagers in the age group of 10-20 of the Holi celebrating contingent play with colours, while only 15% of this group has any awareness about the potentially harmful effects of colours on their body. As the awareness about these harmful chemicals in the colours increases with age, the tendency to use colours in the celebratory purpose decreases proportionately - the age group of 31-40 sees a huge drop to 35%, and falls to 5% for elders above 50 years old. With rising skin related ailments seen post Holi, there is an urgent need to spread awareness about the possible harmful use of chemicals in colours, either through a mass campaign, or a one on one talk by th
e elders. A possible way to save your skin from possible ailments would be to use organic colors or colors which are certified by authorised government agencies.

4. Effects on the nearby water bodies post Holi

And it is not just the effects on those that play with Holi that we should be thinking about. It is the street animals that consume them as well. In a research conducted by Research Journal of Recent Sciences, it was found that the water pH level just after Holi dropped down to 6.1 and increase the hardness in water to 720 ppm. For those of you (like us) who got bored of Chemistry classes back in school (God, they were boring), that's as close to the pH value of urine, i.e. more acidic in nature, and contains 10 times the Hydrogen ions that should be present in pure, distilled water. If we do not allow our own pets to drink such water, then we have no right to allow their kind, even if they are not yours, to drink such water as well. So, in order to avoid situations like these, do not play Holi either in open streets, or near stand still water puddles, as these are the two major sources from which street animals primarily drink water.

5. How to best utilise that much extra water

Thankfully, you do not have to think too much about where and how you can use all the extra water that is consumed during Holi. Each year, we talk about saving trees and spreading greenery. Well, we can do exactly that by watering almost a billion plants with that much extra water. Talk about our favourite beverage, well, we can consume roughly 157 billion cups of tea, thanks to that much water. And remember us mentioning gujiyas and other delicacies earlier? Well, you can cook them over, roughly 450 times. Therefore, we suggest you take a more cautioned approach while playing Holi this time around. While the balloons and pichkaaris need not be done away with, we definitely think that the extravagantly used pumps and open fountains are something that we can do away with.

So, get ready to celebrate a delightful Holi as always. But this year, choose to save a bit more, be it water or wallet. Remember, we have to think about the future as well! And if you cannot think of any other thing that you should do, then we have a fantastic idea for you. How about instead of spending your well earned money on harmful chemical colour, go for the natural ones that do not harm the skin? How about instead of using water, we use dry colours, that are easy to remove and not use as much water? How about sitting down in the afternoon to enjoy some lovely snacks with your family and loved ones? And if you are wondering what to order (apart from gujiyas, phirnis, thandai, gol gappe and dahi bhalle, which always do the trick for us), we can offer you some more help in not just ordering those dishes, but helping your pocket save substantially on them.

So, go out, take a stand, and enjoy this Holi like you have never before. Just remember, to not take those things granted, the future, only to enjoy an extra drop of fun in the present.

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