Holi revellers can now not only stay free from skin diseases, but fight them as well while playing with a new herbal white ‘gulaal’, a unique technology which researchers at Jadavpur University are planning to patent.
Unlike other coloured ‘gulaal’ sold in the market, the white ‘gulaal’ looks just like talcum powder and is free from toxic elements harmful to the body, the university’s pro vice-chancellor Siddhartha Dutta said.
Moreover, the ingredients in the white gulaal can fight a number of skin diseases, Dutta said.
It has been prepared from extracts of flowers, neem and other herbal products and spiced up with the enchanting fragrance of Rajnigandha.
The ‘gulaal’ is a result of a year’s ardous research by a team of 10 people, including faculty members and research scholars of the varsity’s chemical engineering department.
“Our trails have been successful. We are now planning to apply for patenting our technology,” Dutta said.
Containing heavy metals like zinc and mercury which can cause serious skin damage along with irritation, redness and skin burning, chemical colours sold in the market are also known to result in kidney, lung and liver ailments.
The white ‘gulaal’ will also be a relief for parents who are reluctant to allow their young ones to play with powdered hues and watery splashes during Holi fearing health problems.
“Since the skin of children is soft and sensitive, they are more vulnerable to toxic elements present in the colours. But with this white gulaal even children of above six months can safely play Holi. It will be good for their skin too,” said the professor who led the research.
On an experimental basis, around 50-60 kgs of this variety of herbal ‘gulaal’ have already been sold by the university.
Interestingly, locals and students have been applying ‘gulaal’ even months ahead of the festival of colours Holi, which falls this Thursday, as university officials recommend it for its therapeutic values.
The premier university has been making and selling herbal colours made from flower extracts since 2005 at a price ranging between Rs 160 and Rs 200 per kg.
One of the largest flower markets in the country after Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is estimated that West Bengal’s 40 per cent floral production is unsold and wasted every day.
“It is either thrown in the waters of the river Ganges or dumped along with other garbage. But we buy many of these unsold flowers which would have otherwise caused water pollution. It also helps the vendors against distress selling,” university officials said.
In eye-catching hues of yellow, orange, green and blue, a total of 5000 kgs of herbal colour has been produced at the university’s laboratory this year by using flowers like hibiscus, marigold, aparajita and rose.
To transfer the technology to entrepreneurs, the ‘varsity has been imparting training to various self-groups in the locality and from the districts of Howrah, Hooghly, South and North 24-Paragnas.