Celebrating Spring !
The poet Kalidasa was perhaps the one who described the beauty of the seasons in India in the most romantic poetry..speaking of Spring - the Vasant Rtu he said...

कुसुमजन्म ततो नवपल्लवास्तदनु षट्पदकोकिलकुजितम्।
इति यथाक्रममाविरभुन्मधुर्द्रुमवतीमवतीर्य वनस्थलीम्॥

'There was the bursting of flowers and the appearance of tender foliage followed by the humming and singing of honeybees and koels – thus did Spring manifest itself by descending on the thickly wooded woodlands.'

Spring is our favourite season at eCoexist and we celebrate it with the festival of Holi! Spring is a renewal, a rebirth and a chance to start afresh. In India, spring is also when the sun starts moving northwards again and the season turns warm. Trees burst into bloom and are covered with fresh young green leaves.. spring brings promise of life again! Trees such as the Palash ( Butea Monosperma), Pangara ( Indian Coral Tree)  and the Kate Saver ( Bombax Ceiba) bloom into flowers that were used to make natural colours from traditionally...

Read more about Vasant Panchami here ...
Cultures of Abandon!
Holi is one of the most adored festivals in India ..known for its sense of abandon and of course its colours!

But why do we really celebrate Holi?

Traditionally, as the climate started to get warmer, and the trees were covered with blooms, Holi was celebrated using water and medicinal flowers and herbs to cool the body down. Holi is a social event - the community comes out together, sheds their inhibitions and can freely mingle. In a culture where social norms restrict mixing across social boundaries, Holi was the one occasion when joy ruled and everyone could be forgiven!
Colours of the cosmos
The importance and impact of this festival in Indian culture can be seen in the way that it is depicted in art and music, when dieties are shown playing with colours and where the entire celebration becomes a metaphor for how the Universe was created..

In this composition by the saint Brahmananda he describes the creation of the Universe as a play of Holi...

कैसी होरी मचाई, कन्हाई
अचरज लख्यो ना जाई, कैसी होरी मचाई...
What a stupendous Holi you have celebrated Oh Kanha
I am not able to express my amazement!

एक समय श्री कृष्णा प्रभो को, होरी खेलें मन आई
एक से होरी मचे नहीं कबहू, याते करूँ बहुताई
यही प्रभु ने ठहराई, कैसी होरी मचाई...

Once upon a time Shri Krishna felt like playing Holi
Knowing that Holi cannot be played alone
He decided to multiply his manifestations
And this world came into being!

पांच भूत की धातु मिलाकर, एण्ड पिचकारी बताई
चौदह भुवन रंग भीतर भर के, नाना रूप धराई
प्रकट भये कृष्ण कन्हाई, कैसी होरी मचाई...

Mixing the essence of the five elements
You sprayed them through
The fourteen worlds were filled with colour and forms
And You became visible in the physical realms

पांच विषय की गुलाल बना के, बीच ब्रह्माण्ड उड़ाई
जिन जिन नैन गुलाल पड़ी वह, सुध बुध सब बिसराई
नहीं सूझत अपनहि, कैसी होरी मचाई...

The objects of the five senses were the colours you used
And in the midst, the experience of the Universe erupted
Each eye that was showered with Your divine hues
Lost its sense of reality
Abandoned its limited identity

वेद अनेक अनजन की सिला का, जिसने नैन में पायी
ब्रह्मानंद तिस्का तम नास्यो, सूझ पड़ी अपनहि
ओरि कछु बनी न बनाई, कैसी होरी मचाई...

Those eyes that were moistened by the kohl of Vedic wisdom
Brahmanand says those visions lost their darkness
Beecame conscious of their own true nature
With crystal clarity. Nothing else seemed real.
Listen to Ashwini Bhide sing the bhajan from Brahmananda here...
Make your own colours
A beautiful way to bring family and friends together is to start the Holi festival by making your own colours. Using simple food ingredients such as beetroot and spinach , turmeric and rice flour we can easily make our own Holi colours in dry and wet forms at home, ensuring the safety of the colours for everyone who plays.

The Oikos team in Pune have put together a beautiful manual called Nisargshala, in the Marathi language, for school children to learn about environment, in which one of activity is about how to make their own colours.

RED: लाल रंग –
जास्वंदीची फुले सावलीत वाळवून त्याची भुकटी पाण्यात उकळवून घ्यावी. हे मिश्रण आवश्यकतेनुसार पाण्यात मिसळावे.
Dry hibiscus flowers in the shade and powder them. Boil this powder to make a paste that can be used with water later.

YELLOW: पिवळा रंग –
कोरडा रंग –हळद, कस्तुरी हळद, बेसन पीठ मिश्रण ; पिवळ्या झेंडूच्या फुलांच्या पाकळ्या किंवा
बहाव्याच्या फुलांच्या पाकळ्या सावलीत वाळवून त्याची भुकटी व बेसन पीठ; बेलफळाची साल
वाळवून त्याची भुकटी.
Dry powders : Turmeric, chickpea flour, yellow marigold or Bahava flower petals can also be added to the yellow mixtures. The peel of the Bel fruit can also be used as a dry powder.

ओला रंग – या फुलांच्या पाकळ्या रात्रभर पाण्यात भिजवत ठेवा, त्यात थोडी हळद टाकून मिश्रण
चांगले उकळून घ्या.
Wet yellows: Use the petals of the flowers mentioned above and soak them in water overnight. You can add turmeric powder and boil the water to get a deep yellow.

GREEN: हिरवा रंग –
गुलमोहोर, मेहंदीची पाने व गव्हाचे कोंब यांची पेस्ट तयार करून रात्रभर एखाद्या पीठामध्ये
भिजत ठेवा. कोथिबीर आणि पालकच्या पानांचा लगदा तयार करून या मिश्रणात मिसळा.
हिरवा द्रवरूप रंग तयार करण्यासाठी २ चमचे मेंदी घेऊन एक लिटर पाण्यामध्ये मिश्रण करून
ढवळल्यास हिरवा रंग मिळतो.
पालक, कोथिंबीर, पुदिना किंवा टमाटरच्या पानांची पेस्ट तयार करूनसुद्धा हिरवा रंग मिळविता
Leaves of Gulmohar and Mehndi along with wheat grass should be soaked overnight. Make a dough of the leaves of spinach and coriander leaves and add them to the soak.
Spinach, coriander, peppermint and tomato leaves can also be made in to a paste 

ORANGE: केशरी रंग –
पांगाऱ्याची / पळसाची / काटेसावरीची फुले सावलीत वाळवून त्यांची भुकटी बनवली की कोरडा रंग
तयार होतो.
ही फुले रात्रभर पाण्यात भिजवत ठेवा, व नंतर हे मिश्रण चांगले उकळून घ्या – ओला रंग तयार
होतो. याला सुंगधही असतो.
पारीजातकाच्या फुलांचे देठ वाळवून, पाण्यात बुडवून ठेवा. छान वासाचा केशरी रंग तयार होतो

Flowers of Pangara, Palash and Kate Sawar cna be dried in shade and then powdered to get an orange shade colour. If soaked overnight they can make a wet colour which is also fragrant.
The stem of the flowers of Parijat also give a beautiful orange.
BROWNS: तपकिरी रंग –
काथ पाण्यात मिसळा.
चहा किंवा कॉफीची पाने पाण्यात उकळा.
Red katha paste made from the Acacia Catechu tree which is used in Paan can be used as a brown colour.
Tea and coffee can also give a deep brown tint.

BLACK: काळा रंग –
वाळलेले आवळे लोखंडी भांडयात उकळवा. रात्रभर ठेवा, यात आवश्यकतेनुसार पाणी टाकावे.
Dried gooseberry can be boiled in an iron vessel and soaked overnight to get a black colour.

BLUES: निळा रंग –
जॅकॅरंडाची फुले सावलीत वाळवून त्याची भुकटी करा.
निळूंबीची फळे (Phyllanthus reticulatus ) पाण्यात भिजवावी.
Flowers of Jacaranda should be dried and powdered to get a blue.
Soak fruits of Nilumbi ( Phyllanthus reticulatus ) in water will also give a blue colour.

MAGENTA : जांभळा रंग –
बीट कापून त्याचे बारीक तुकडे पाण्यात टाका (१ बीटासाठी १ लिटर पाणी) रात्रभर ठेवा,
आवश्यकतेनुसार पाणी टाका.
Cut and soak pieces of beetroot in water overnight.

PINKS: गुलाबी रंग –
कांचनची फुले रात्रभर पाण्यात ठेवा.
Soak flowers of the Kanchan tree overnight.
Download the Nisargshala manual
Have a wonderful Holi!
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The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
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