The herbal colours made from the Palash flower (Butea monosperma) by women self-help groups in several Uttar Pradesh districts are much in demand for Holi celebrations not only in the country but also foreign lands.
Women of self-help groups (SWG) operating under the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission are preparing gulals (Brightly coloured powder) in red, green, purple, pink from the flowers in Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Varanasi and Chitrakoot districts.
The gulals have found a demand in London besides other states in the country.
Kanchan, a woman working with the Sonbhadra Bhima Prerna group, said, “The Palash flowers are plucked and dried for a day. This is followed by boiling the flower in water for two hours which leaves behind a colour. After this, we add coloured water of Arrowroot to it, then it is spread and dried.”
“The herbal gulal costs a small amount of money. It is prepared on an average cost of Rs 60 to 70. In the market, it is sold easily between Rs 150 to 200. It yields a good profit. As many as 11 women are preparing these herbal gulals with me. Till now our self-help group has prepared herbal gulal worth three quintals which has been sold in the Sonbhadra district,” said Kanchan.
UP Rural Livelihood Mission Director, Sujit Kumar, said: “During Holi one must use chemical-free colours. For this purpose, gulal is being prepared from the flowers of Palash. The women of the self-help groups are engaged in this work. Especially in Sonbhadra and Mirzapur districts. So far, 5,000 kilogram of herbal colours and gulal have been prepared by 4,058 women self-help groups across 32 districts in the state, which have been sold for nearly Rs 7 lakh.”
He said, “Apart from preparing herbal colours, chips, ‘papad’ and ‘gujiya’ are also being prepared by the women of the self-help groups. For this, training is also being imparted under the mission. A target of Rs 1 crore has been set to sell these products. The demand for herbal colours prepared by the Sonbhadra self-help group has come from London, where an order has been placed and sent abroad.”
Pandit Sarojkant Mishra said, “According to mythological beliefs, rituals such as Yajyna are performed from the stem of the Palash flower. Project Manager Acharya Shekhar said due to the fear of coronavirus, people are hesitant in playing with colours on this year’s Holi. In such a situation, the demand for ‘Palash’ flower is increasing. This is because the colours made from Palash flowers are natural and do not cause any harm to the body. The demand for Palash flowers has grown in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Uttarakhand besides London where orders have been placed and sent.”
Ayurveda Acharya Vijay Seth said, “Palash flower is very beneficial for human beings. Its herbal colours do not harm the skin. Palash flower always enhances the skin. It protects against antiviral and antifungal infections as well as reduces pollution. It is very beneficial to cure stomach diseases. By not adding chemicals while making colours from Palash flowers will not cause any harm to the body.”