Udaipur : Edible-grade herbal ‘abeer- gulal’ in vibrant shades made and packaged by tribal inmates of Udaipur district are much in demand , this Holi. The colours all handmade are skin friendly and are not detrimental to health because they do not contain any heavy metals and are lab tested. The forest department has sold off color packets in large quantity in big cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur this time. The initiative is under the welfare activity of the forest department to promote entrepreneurship through forest based products and income generation for the tribal population.
“We have prepared over 10 quintals of abeer-gulal this year and started selling it through the outlets of our department. The aabir prepared by us is entirely herbal and made with dried flowers, roots and leaves,” Harini V, the deputy conservator forest, said. “These are totally chemical free herbal colours made from mixture of herbs and arrowroot starch and give everlasting respite to people from all allergies, ill-effects etc” she said. The forest department had taken up the initiative three years ago and after the encouraging feedback from the people and increased demand, the production has doubled.
The village forest protection and management committees with the help of various self help groups in Chowkadiya range , under the guidance of the foresters prepared colours in four shades. Large quantity of flowers were collected from forest and various nurseries and dried up. Flowers and leaves of Palash, Marigold, Amaltas, Rose were used to make abeer and gulal of four shades. This powder has natural fragrance and is totally safe for use while the chemical colors available in the market are harmful and cause diseases like asthama, allergy, rashes, etc. “ Our main focus is to help the tribal people to generate income through sustainable forest resources. The eco- friendly colors are gaining popular not only among the local public but from those living in the metros” Harini said. Since the handmade process is time consuming and requires hard labor, hence the cost of production goes high. “ The herbal colours may cost few rupees extra compared to their chemical counterparts in the market but they are 100% safe and harmless” said Rahul Bhatnagar, the chief conservator of forest. Chemical colours cost around 80 to 100 rupeess per kilo while the herbal color sold by forest department is priced at 140 rupees per kg. These colors are available at different counters installed by the department.