PRAYAGRAJ: The festival of colours, Holi, is around the corner and people are eagerly looking to have some fun playing colours. Since the demand for safe, healthy and chemical-free products is rising as citizens have become health conscious after the pandemic, around 4,058 women volunteers associated with 426 self-help groups across 32 districts in the state are preparing 5,000 kg herbal gulal and colours daily for Holi.
Moreover, herbal gulal and colours made by an SHG in Sonbhadra are being dispatched to London and other countries, besides being sold through e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart.
The herbal gulal and colours are being manufactured from flowers offered to the deities and collected by volunteers from prominent temples like Vindhyavasini Devi temple (Mirzapur), Devi Patan (Shravasti), Kashi Vishwanath (Varanasi), Khatu Shyam (Lucknow), and Shiva Temple at Gola Gokaran Nath in Lakhimpur Kheri.
The herbal colours are safe, easy to remove and do not cause allergies and irritation as they are free from harmful chemicals.
The members of SHGs are being trained under UP State Rural Livelihood Mission (UPSRLM), which has set a target of selling herbal gulal and colours worth Rs 1 crore on Holi.
UPSRLM mission director Sujeet Kumar told TOI, “Over 4,000 members of 426 SHGs are preparing 5,000 kg herbal gulal every day which is being sold for Rs 70,000. We have demand from UK and some other countries.”
Kumar further added “We are focusing on quality control and all members are following global hygiene standards and precaution while preparing herbal gulal, colours, potato chips, papad, namkeen and gujias.”
SHGs in many districts, including Lucknow, Shravasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Mirzapur, Fatehpur, Kheri, Unnao, Barabanki, Prayagraj, Aligarh, Sonbhadra, Ghaziabad, Banda, Varanasi, Bhagpat, Chandauli, Lalitpur, Ayodhya and Jhansi are making the Holi products.
The volunteers who used to collect used flowers for manufacturing incense sticks are now collecting rose and marigold flowers from temples for the SHGs.
“The flowers are dried and boiled with arrowroot. Then perfume is added to it. It costs Rs 50 to prepare one kg gulal which is being sold between Rs 100 and Rs 130,” said Kumar.
The SHG members earn Rs 80 or Rs 90 per kg, he added.
The officials of UP State Rural Livelihood Mission have set a target of manufacturing herbal gulal worth Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh in each district.