This weekend I had the pleasure of being able to attend the Festival of Colours, also Knows as "Holi." Holi rings in the being of Spring, and the end/ start of the Hare Krishna yearly calender. It's a 3 day affair, jam packed full of exciting and mind blowing exhibits. There are dancers, an array of food, concerts, a ceremonial burning of an effigy, you can bedazzle your forehead in the typical Krishna Style, you can tour the Temple, and people hawk cheap paper umbrellas and fans at you, there is even a petting zoo including Lama's and tiny bulls/oxen named Zebu's (or something like that)and the end all be all throwing of colors/ dance party. It's basically a Bangladesh bazaar, held in good ol' Spanish Fork, which is smack dab in the middle of Utah.
Hare Krishna, as I understand it, is closely related to Hinduism. They are extremely polite, passive people, who know how to throw a shockingly good celebration. I didn't get to go in to the temple, but I'm planning on it next, I wish I could have spent all day there soaking up the Hare ways, but alas we made it just in time for the pigment battle. Which is the climax of this whole shindig.
let the games commence!
Rachael and moi embracing our new found Eastern enlightenment
Battle wounds, or badges of honor?
Lambchop and friends.
I'm near positive that the dye was cut with asbestos. I, being a pansy, could not breath for about 2 solid minutes, and have had cold like symptoms since returning home, this is including a head ache. (My warrior like companion i.e. Rachael, has also had complains of such ailments.) I defiantly inhaled enough to be in leagues with Tony Montana, I know this for a fact... Thus, once again, reverting back to Wikipedia to help me, I found this tantalizing tid bit.
The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause viral fever and cold. Thus, the playful throwing of natural coloured powders has a medicinal significance: the colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Āyurvedic doctors. A special drink called thandai is prepared, sometimes containing bhang (Cannabis sativa). Unfortunately the commercial aspect of celebration has led to an increase in the use of synthetic colours which, in some cases, may be toxic.
As the Spring-blossoming trees that once supplied the colours used to celebrate Holi have died, chemically produced industrial dyes have been utilized to take their place in almost entire urban India. In 2001, a fact sheet was published by the groups Toxics link and Vatavaran based in Delhi on the chemical dyes used in the festival. They found safety issues with all three forms in which the Holi colours are produced: pastes, dry colours and water colours.
In investigating the pastes, they found toxic chemicals with potentially severe health impacts. The black pastes were found to contain lead oxide which can result in renal failure. Two colors were found to be carcinogenic: silver, with aluminium bromide, and red, with mercury sulphate. The prussian blue used in the blue paste has been associated with contact dermatitis, while the copper sulphate in the green has been documented to cause eye allergy, puffiness and temporary blindness.
The colourant used in the dry colours, also called gulals, was found to be toxic, with heavy metals causing asthma, skin diseases and temporary blindness. Both of the commonly used bases—asbestos or silica—are associated with health issues.
They reported that the wet colours might lead to skin discolouration and dermatitis due to their use of colour concentrate gentian violet.
Lack of control over the quality and content of these colours is a problem, as they are frequently sold by vendors who do not know their origin.
Playing a Natural Holi in PuneThe report galvanized a number of groups into promoting more natural celebrations of Holi. Development Alternatives, Delhi and Kalpavriksh, Pune and The CLEAN India campaign have both launched campaigns to help children learn to make their own colours for Holi from safer, natural ingredients. Meanwhile, some commercial companies such as the National Botanical Research Institute have begun to market "herbal" dyes, though these are substantially more expensive than the dangerous alternatives. However, it may be noted that many parts of rural India have always resorted to natural colours (and other parts of festivities more than colours) due to availability reasons.
I'm dying. The Festival of Beautifully Tinted Anthrax has killed me. Pathetically, I would do it again.
I still think that's its pretty amusing that about 4-5,000 people were there, 94% of which where LDS, and had no idea what they were doing. I myself, Wikepedia-ed to give my self a lil background. But hey, if you can throw powder dye in strangers eyes, dance to Mantra Chants as if it was a rave, and call the act "cultured," more power to ya.