Times News Network, March 01, 2010
After eco-friendly Holi parties became a fad a few years ago,there have been several innovations in the festive palette,and herbal gulaal and skin-friendly colours made out of talcum powder and organic colours have become all the rage.But are they all as safe as they claim to be
The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) in Lucknow is one of the institutes in India that have developed the technology of making natural colours,and many companies have tied up with them.Dr SKS Rathore,scientist and head (information ),NBRI,says,Its mandatory for all the manufacturers,to whom we have transferred the technology for manufacturing herbal gulaal,to carry the logos of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and NBRI on the packets at the time of sale.We also try and keep an eye on these companies by doing random checks on their samples. Apart from NBRI,a few other organisations have also developed the technology to manufacture natural colours made out of organic products.
AN OVERDOSE OF ORGANIC
At present, there are about 42 brands selling organic colours for Holi,and their products have flooded markets all over Delhi. Shekhar Mittal, a shopkeeper in Chandni Chowk, says, During Holi,we keep all kinds of colours. People do ask for natural colours as they are in fashion, par har company ka maal sahi thodi hota hai. Moreover, these colours are expensive, so many companies have launched a cheaper variant which might not be really natural, par log khareed hi lete hain.
Sujit Reddy,CEO of Organica, which claims to be the manufacturer of the first organic colours in India,says,Our colours are certified organic products by Uttaranchal State Organic Certification Agency as per the National Program for Organic Production (NPOP).But the government has not set any standards for a product that is herbal, therefore, anyone can claim that their product is herbal and no one can raise any question.
BURA NA MANO
But not every companys products are certified, and some people sell synthetic colours under the guise of herbal or organic. So what do you do if your gulaal is unsafe There are organisations like the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), consumer court, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) that handle grievances of customers.George Cheriyan, director, CUTS India, says, So far, we havent received any complaints regarding organic colours. We tell people that they should buy it from a reliable shop and also get the bill.They should also read the ingredients list carefully. Often, people dont report cases simply because they dont want to go through the hassle and wait for years for a verdict to come out.Says finance professional Namrata Taneja, Last year, I bought one of those herbal gulaals, thinking it wouldnt harm my skin, but the next day, I had a major rash. Technically, I should have gone to the shopkeeper and asked him about it, but then I thought, who will go through all that
GUIDE TO A SAFE HOLI
Organic colours are made from products like henna, tulsi, maida, turmeric, gram flour, maize flour, wheat, carrot and beetroot
They have a soft natural aroma
They can be removed easily with a handkerchief and do not cause any irritation on the skin when applied
They do not leave any trace behind after being washed with water
Compared to other colours, herbal and organic colours cause minimal irritation, even if they accidentally get inside the eye
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