Have a safe Holi with your child
Created by Payal Updated on Mar 14, 2014
Whether you believe in the legend of Prahlad or of Krishna, whether you are in Shantiniketan throwing gulaal in the air, or subscribe to the famous Lath Maar Holi of Barsana where women beat up the men with sticks, Holi has been the spring festival of colors for thousands of years.
A great leveler, it goes beyond boundaries of caste, creed and religion and is mostly, a celebration filled with fun, frolic and food. Holi is all about family and loads of fun together while enjoying the celebrations with yummy gujiya and laddoo. Here are some tips, which can ensure you have all the joy of the festival without any of the heartache.
Protect your body
Holi revelers often turn up at the doctor’s with skin irritations, rashes and skin discoloration.
Green color contains copper sulphate; silver has aluminum bromide, while black color uses lead oxide. One can use natural colors but if that is not possible, you could buy from a trusted vendor who can give a guarantee of the quality of the color. Using more of red or pink colors and trying to avoid purple, green, yellow, black or orange perhaps may be a better option as the latter ones have more harmful chemicals. The mica (the shiny small bits) present in Abeer is also very harmful so you may want to go for organic and safe versions of the same.
• Skin: It is always a good idea to oil or cream the face, neck and other exposed areas before you or your child goes out to play. After returning and finishing the bath it is advisable to use oil and cream once again. This will help the skin protected from some of the harmful effects of the chemicals and also keep it hydrated. Harsh soaps or kerosene to wash the color off is not advisable as these products are skin irritants and may harm the skin further. Home remedies like a thick paste of besan and milk can make excellent cleansers.
• Nails: Use paint on and around the nails to protect them from the harmful colors. Later you can just remove the nail polish with a nail polish remover. This will keep the colors from seeping into the nail cuticle or discolor the nails.
• Hair and scalp: Use a shower cap or a cap or hat for covering your child’s hair. Despite the fact that a child’s hair may have gone through less weather damage as compared to an adult but then the hair are that much more sensitive to the harsh chemicals in the color. Oiling your child’s hair may help in coating the hair with a protective layer and the harmful chemicals will have less contact with the hair or the scalp directly.
• Teeth: Before you start playing holi, you could have a talk with your child that if possible the child should knowingly keep the mouth closed but in case the color goes in the mouth , one has to instantly rinse the mouth with clean water till there are no traces of color in the mouth.
• Eyes: The eyes are our most precious organ. Every year when my daughter starts to play holi I make sure that she is wearing her swimming goggles, these are made out of soft plastic and do not break and these are designed such that they do not allow the water to get to the eyes. In case one does not have swimming goggles you could buy one from any local sports shop. (the cheaper ones cost somewhere between Rs. 100 – 200 but they do the trick).
Contact lenses may be avoided, as eyes will become prone to infection if the color gets between the eyes and lens. Instruct your children to keep their eyes and mouth tightly shut if they are unable to fend off an “enthusiastic attack” on the face with colors.
• Arms and legs: Dress your children in full-sleeved old t-shirts and leggings, which you can just throw away later. They may even wear socks.
• While travelling in your car, keep windows rolled up fully to avoid getting hit with a stray balloons inside the car.
• If your child is out on the street, instruct them to avoid large groups or mobs for safety purposes. Ask them to just cross the street or wait till the mob passes.
• It is better to play with a known group of friends and relatives and not with strangers.
• It goes without saying that driving is unsafe if you have indulged in bhang or any intoxicating drink; however, if you have children along, it is absolutely essential that you avoid driving completely.
• Be careful of the food if you are eating outside.
When children play
• Encourage all neighborhood children and their parents to play with herbal colors. You can even suggest buying the colors together, so that you can have some control over the quality of the colors ?.
• Discourage children to aim for the eyes or mouth while applying colors may be helpful.
• If the floor they are playing on is wet, you may have to ensure they don’t run. It could result in a fall or injury.
• Children are more prone to skin infections. In case of a color irritating your child’s skin, or if your teen has pimples or acne, washing immediately and applying some calamine lotion would be ideal and then a doctor could be consulted. If colors get into the eye and your child feels irritation or burning, wash with clean running water, and then consult a doctor.
• Discourage children from using dirty water and random things, for example water from the gutters, mud or eggs and tomatoes. They may cause infections or injure themselves.
• One of the main fun attractions of holi are the color filled balloons, while you could discourage the children to not throw water balloons at each other, it may not work. Letting them know of the consequences of how a balloon could hurt others and asking them to be careful may be advisable.
• Catching a cold after the wet holi is most common but making sure that the child does not stay in wet clothes for too long and has a warm bath may be just the thing to avoid the cold. A massage with some mustard or olive oil after the bath may be beneficial further.
• Last and most important, your children may be taught the importance of having fun but respecting each other’s right to stay away from celebrations or the right to say “No”.
Encourage them neither to put up with ragging, nor indulge in it with neighbors.
Celebrate with your Child
If you are a new parent you perhaps cannot wait to introduce your little one to the festival of colors. Depending on the age of your baby, you can expose her slowly to Holi if you are careful of some do-s and don’t-s.
• For new born- 1 year olds: Let your precious little one take in the colors visually but avoiding any contact with the color may be advisable. She might even be scared of the loud sounds and color and in that case you might want to take her to a peaceful spot and have her take a nap. If you are playing, ensure to have breastfed her first and avoid toxic chemicals on your body, especially the chest area.
• If your little one gets afraid seeing your face in various shades of colors, talking to her in a pleasant tone ensuring that it is indeed her mum may help. The little one might even get scared if s/he sees others putting color on you, so trying to keep the little one away from the commotion may be advisable.
• For 1-3 year old children: Once they are well rested and have had their food, they might be taken out to join the others for small periods of time. They might get overwhelmed with the grand celebrations so giving them enough space to unwind may be helpful. If they cry or get afraid, it is best that they watch the revelry from a safe distance like the window or verandah but making sure that they have an adult reassuring and explaining them the scenario might have a calming effect on the child.
• If possible, try to stay in an environment, which your child knows. If not, try to always have someone she knows with her, like a parent or grandparent.
• It is best to discourage them from touching chemical colors. They could try if the color is natural but you may have to be careful to avoid contact with eyes or mouth. If guests or neighbors insist on putting color on your baby, request them for a small tika on the forehead or a dot on the cheek. I encouraged guests to put polka dots on my daughter’s shirt instead of her skin (it really tickled her fancies and I was happy too ?).
• It may be a good idea to keep a basket of flower petals and have older babies play on their own with that.
• Be aware of the signs that your baby is being harmed by the colors- uncontrolled crying, red eyes, skin rash, skin itching, swelling in mouth, tummy ache or upset, irregular breathing or even loss of consciousness might occur if the baby ingests color accidentally. If you see any of these symptoms immediately call the doctor and if needed rush the little one to the hospital.
Some ideas for natural or herbal colors
• Red sandalwood powder or paste for Red. Red hibiscus flowers give the same effect. The peels of pomegranate may be boiled in water to give a nice red colour.
• Want Purple? You cannot go wrong with beetroot juice. Soaking some finely sliced beets overnight in a drum of water will give you loads of deep pink / purple to play with the next morning.
• Yellow color: Tesu or Palash is a flower commonly found on all flower vendors, when these are soaked in water overnight they transform the water to a bright yellow color.
• Henna powder for Green. Soak spinach leaves in water to get green staining water. Grind some coriander in a food processor and mix with water.
• Turmeric powder for Yellow. You can mix with besan or atta for desired quantity.
• The food colors come in all shades and kinds, I have used these sometimes to make buckets of green or yellow color.
• You can make your own gulaal with a little effort. Get colourful flowers like marigold or red roses and dry them well in the summer sun. Grind them to make lovely and safe gulaal. You can use them in powder form or mix with water.
• One very easy and common trick that I have discovered is to use non-toxic colors from Camlin when all else fails. They come in all colors, they are not fast colors so they come off very easily both from the clothes as well as the body and they are available in jumbo boxes or 200 gms so just buying two or three shades will keep the color flowing for a long time.
Homemade goodies- Yum Yum
Holi is associated with a lot of goodies like puran poli-s, pakoras, dahi bhalles, kachori or barfi-s. But the favorite sweets of Holi must be the gujiya. Here is how you can make it at home and avoid the unhealthy ones sold at the shop.
• You will need 1 kg Khoya, 500 gms Sugar, 500 gms Maida, 200 gms chopped almonds, oil, some Raisins and Water.
• Make dough with the maida, deep fry the khoya till light brown, add sugar, almonds and raisins. Fry for some more time and let cool.
• Make small thick chapatti with the maida dough. On half the chapatti put khoya mixture and fold chapatti. Close by pressing.
• Deep fry gujiya and drain the oil before serving. You can sprinkle some honey or icing sugar on top.
Once you have made sure of safety during the colourful season, go ahead and have a lot of fun. While doing so you may also encourage your children not to waste water on Holi or use plastics and balloons as that just weighs down the environment.
Here’s to a safe, fun, responsible and great Holi!
| Mar 14, 2014
i am going to make natural colors. thanks payal
| Mar 29, 2013
I agree, the tips were great and we had a fun fun holi...
| Mar 29, 2013
followed these tips with my 7 year old and we had a great holi,thanks!
| Mar 28, 2013
| Mar 26, 2013
The blog covers every aspect of this awesome festival, thanks!
| Mar 21, 2013
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