FESTIVALS : Holi fragrant with the Tesu flower

The most popular natural color for Holi is obtained from the Tesu flower or ‘the flame of the forest’. Legend has it that even Lord Krishna would play Holi with Radha Rani with these same Tesu flowers. The tradition continues in Braj Bhoomi, and most of t

When the dark gloom of the winter is replaced by the colors of spring, when the little saplings refuse to be cowed down by the frost and make their way to the surface sprouting fresh leaves and buds, that is when Lord Krishna too, decides to celebrate the coming of the season of flowers by playing Holi with the Gopikas and Radha Rani.

Long before synthetic “made in China” colors became popular, our ancient texts mention Holi being played with colored water. Herbs and flowers were powdered or boiled to obtain the color of choice. As skin allergies peak during Holi, people increasingly want to return to the roots and play with safe natural colors.

The most popular natural color for Holi is obtained from the Tesu flower or ‘the flame of the forest’. Legend has it that even Lord Krishna would play Holi with Radha Rani with these same Tesu flowers. The tradition continues in Braj Bhoomi, and most of the temples devoted to Krishna in Mathura and Vrindavan still play Holi the same way.

Tesu flowers are quite versatile when it comes to being used for Holi. In their fresh form, they are used to welcome guests and sprinkle fragrant water as a sign of welcome. The dried and powdered flowers are used to make fragrant natural gulal.

And of course the most popular, Tesu flowers are soaked overnight along with other fragrances like saffron and sandalwood to obtain the orange-yellow water which is used to play Holi. Alternatively, they can also be boiled for a richer color. In Mathura or Vrindavan, when you visit a temple during Holi, and find yourself under a shower of yellow fragrant water, in all likeliness, it is the concoction made with the Tesu flowers.

The fragrant deep yellow orange water obtained from boiling the Tesu flower is said to have many medicinal properties, and is particularly good for the skin. This is a boon for those whose main problem with playing Holi is the after effects on the skin. Mixing haldi or turmeric with this further enhances not just the color, but also the medicinal value of this water. A point to note is thus obtained colored water does not need hours of scrubbing to remove, either from your body, or from your clothes.

Tesu flowers grow in abundance all over the country. And for city dwellers, your local grocer is sure to stock them at the time of Holi. Stock up, soak up, and play Holi the natural way.

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