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What Gives Holi Powder Its Color? 7 Amazing Secrets About the Powder

Holi powder

The triumph of good over evil and a way for couples to celebrate their bond. The Indian festival of Holi is full of drama, love, and most importantly, color.

You've probably seen iconic pictures of this springtime festival. People celebrate by throwing beautiful and brightly colored powder on each other.

Because Holi has been around for hundreds of years, it's full of history and significance. That goes for the Holi powder, also called gulal, too.

There are many interesting facts to learn about the festival and especially the powder. Here are seven amazing secrets about this colorful powder you need to know!

1. The History of Holi Festival

Why is Holi celebrated? And why is powder used?

There are two stories associated with this Indian festival. One about the triumph of good over evil, and the other about two lovers playfully enjoying each others' company.

The story about evil involves a cruel king, his scheming sister, and his son who was devoted to the Lord Vishnu.

The king tried to burn his son by getting his sister Holika, the festival's namesake, to trick him in to going into a flaming pyre. The boy's devotion to Lord Vishnu saved him.

The second story is about Krishna and his lover, Radha. Krishna was jealous of Radha's light skin and playfully painted her with colorful powders.

These stories infuse the festival, and the bright powders, with meaning.

2. How to Use Holi Powder

The easiest way to use these powders is to simply grab a handful and throw them on your friend. That's not the only way you can celebrate Holi with powder.

Some celebrate with colored powder bombs. These are a fun way to throw a lot of color on someone all at once.

You can also set up a colorful powder station. A color station is an area where you pass underneath it and get showered in colors.

An easy way to spray powder on friends and family? Fill up a squeeze bottle with different colors for precision fun.

3. Meanings Behind the Colors

Our eyes light up seeing the brilliant blues, powerful pinks, and amazing yellows. These gorgeous hues all have special meanings that bring depth to the celebration.

Here are a few shades and what they represent:

  • Bright red: love, passion, and vital energy
  • Rich orange: sacred reverence, happiness, and optimism
  • Vibrant yellow: celebration of spring and hope
  • Gorgeous green: purity, harmony, and peace
  • Brilliant blue: new beginnings, peace, emotions, and faith
  • Vivid violets: dark indigo and violet are associated with Krishna and Vishnu
  • Punchy pinks: mysticism, life, and energy

The beautiful colors used in the Holi festival aren't just lovely to look at. They're full of deep meanings and history.

4. What Is Holi Powder Made Of?

If you're going to be pelted in powder, you'll want to know what it's made out of it. Is it toxic or is it safe for consumption?

Originally, powders were made from natural elements. Plants, minerals, and more were used to create colors alone or in combinations.

For example, ground up neem leaves used to create the green powder. Curcumin is yellow on its own, but when treated with lime, it becomes a vivid red.

These days, many powders are made from food—or cosmetic-grade components. You can even make your own powder at home.

5. Using Colored Powders Outside of Holi

Holi is fun and exciting, but we can't forget that it's still a sacred celebration. Is there a way to use Holi colored powders outside of the festival?

Indians living abroad still celebrate Holi and have shared the cultural tradition worldwide. Respectfully sharing Holi outside of India broadens our cultural understanding.

Having a Holi party without recognizing its roots is certainly not the way to go. But there are other ways to enjoy the colors without being disrespectful.

Color runs are popular events where people run a race while getting hit with powder at different parts of the run. Be mindful of how you create events with colored Holi powders, and you can still have fun.

6. How Safe Are Colored Powders?

We talked about how powders can be made from natural ingredients of additives that are safe to consume. But how safe are they?

Food, and cosmetics, grade colors are safe for skin and can be ingested. We don't recommend eating the powder, but if some gets in your mouth, you'll be OK.

Just like you wouldn't throw dirt in someone's eyes, you shouldn't throw colored powdered directly in someone's face. Holi powder ingredients are usually safe but always read ingredients to make sure you have the best quality colors.

7. How to Make Holi Powder

Want to go in a DIY direction? Learning how to make holi powder is easier than you think.

They perhaps won't be as brightly colored as commercially available powders. Still, it's a lot of fun to make them by yourself, and you'll have a feeling of satisfaction.

Here are a few easy recipes:

  • Add ground rose petals to rice flour or corn starch for red or pink colored powder.
  • Dry and grind up mint, coriander, or spinach then mix with cornstarch or wheat powder for bright, fragrant greens.
  • Hennah mixed into flour and left to dry overnight makes a vibrant orange.
  • Boil beets, drain the water, and use it to mix with corn starch for a deep purple color.

The easiest way to create colorful, safe powders at home? Use flour and food coloring.

Make a paste with one cup flour and half a cup of water. Separate it into different bowls and add a few drops of food coloring to each one.

Mix them up and then let them dry overnight. Use a coffee grinder to get them back to a fine powder.

Celebrating Holi With Colored Powders

Holi powder is beautiful, colorful, and fun to play with. Now you know that it's also steeped in tradition and meaning.

Want to add vibrant colored powders to your next celebration? Check out our premium, safe, and gorgeous selection of colors and get inspired!