The ‘holi’er colours of yore


Still popular in Nalgonda, natural colours for Holi celebrations are made from Tesu flowers, also called the modugu pulu

A woman preparing natural colours using the ‘modugu pulu’ ahead of Holi festivities in Nalgonda on Sunday.- Photo: Singam Venkataramana

A woman preparing natural colours using the ‘modugu pulu’ ahead of Holi festivities in Nalgonda on Sunday.- Photo: Singam Venkataramana

Holi in the days of yore, would be a lot more colourful. And safe. This would easily have been just another rant from the elderly, only true.

Colours then, were made from Tesu flowers (Butea monosperma), known locally as modugu pulu , and were an integral part of celebrations of Holi and kama dhanam .

At many places in the district, people still do so. Children and youth are seen climbing onto trees and collecting these flowers ahead of the spring festival.

Harming health

“We used to spend nothing to celebrate Holi. We would celebrate with colours made from modugu pulu ,” says 95-year-old Y. Gopal Reddy, adding that today’s generation was harming its health, particularly eyes and skin, by investing a lot of money on artificial colours. Last year, the nonagenarian’s 10-year-old great grandson had developed rashes on his skin, having played with these colours.

Medicinal value

The Tesu flowers have good medicinal value, says Arunjyoti. S. Lokhandy, who has been promoting eco-friendly celebrations in the district. The flowers should be boiled in water, after which one would obtain a fragrant, deep-yellow water that has medicinal properties and prevents skin problems.

Seventy-year-old S. Susheela says one should also mix pasupu (turmeric) and sunnam (lime), which enhance the medicinal content to the liquid, while also enabling easy removal of stains from the body and clothes.

The mixture would be ground for a couple of minutes in a rolu (a traditional grinder), before the flowers were boiled. After the liquid cooled, they would play Holi with colours.

 

 

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