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Varanasi to use non-toxic herbal colours this Holi

Non-toxic and skin-friendly herbal colours will be used to play Holi by the locals of Varanasi.

According to shopkeepers, Sale of herbal colours has picked up in last five years due to awareness campaigns.

A manufacturer Rajesh Drolia said, "The herbal colours are starch-based and made from extracts of flowers, bark of trees, natural leaves. It does not have any harmful impact on our body whereas the chemical colours can cause allergies, eye infection and other diseases."

A shopkeeper in Sigra area said, "We have sold several sachets of natural gulal in the last couple of days, while the sale of chemical colours is limited." AK Gupta, another shopkeeper at Gola Dinanath market said, "Despite being costlier than chemical colours, people are only opting for herbal colours. Even youngsters who used to feel incomplete without using chemical colours have switched to herbal colours."

The popularity of the herbal colours over the last five years has grown so much so, that many shopkeepers have not even stocked usual chemical colours. "The trend has changed over the last few years and looking at the sale of herbal colours, we have not stocked chemical colours at all this year", said Ashok Chaudhary, a shopkeeper. The cost of 'abeer-gulal' ranges from Rs 80 per kg to Rs 100 per kg while the herbal colours are priced between Rs 400 per kg and Rs 1,200 per kg, he added.

"Last year, my children faced lot of skin issues post Holi. My wife has strictly asked me to purchase quality herbal colours. These are not just skin-friendly but are also scented", said Kirti Kant, local resident who was out purchasing colours for Holi.

"For me, Holi is one of the most awaited festivals and imagining it without colours is just impossible. But, I cannot take chances with my sensitive skin so I prefer herbal pink gulal while playing with my family", said Sushma, a resident of Maidagin area.

The herbal colours are available in the market for Rs 400 per kg to Rs 800 per kg, as compared to regular colours which come for Rs 200 per kg to Rs 300 per kg, market sources said. Other than colours, different styles of pichkaris, masks, colourful 'Malinga' hair, colourful mini-bombs are also being readily grabbed by the revelers. For extra protection, few shops have also stocked 'security umbrella guard' pichkaris for Rs 250 each in the city.

Apart from this, herbal spray colours are equally in demand.

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