The Hindu holiday Holi is celebrated every year in March. It's also known as the Festival of Spring, of Colors, or of Love; its meaning is said to have changed over the years. According to the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, it's believed to have at first been celebrated by married women who wanted happiness for their families.
Now, Holi has deep cultural ties to the Hindu religion, and people celebrate it for various reasons. One of the staples of the holiday is the colorful powder that paints everything around it. But what is it made of? There's actually one location that makes most of the Holi powder used around the world.
What is Holi powder made of?
Typically, corn starch is used for the base of the powder because it's light and isn't as toxic as other options like talcum. Much of the gulal is made by hand but now, there are also machines that can make the process much faster.
The corn starch is ground and baked in the sun. Yellow is the most common color, but there are hundreds of colors to choose from. Every popular color of Holi powder can be produced in dozens of different shades. Each of them has a different meaning.
"Every color tells a story," said Manu Garg, a member of the family that owns the company. "Red stands for love. Blue is for royalty. Pink [is] for caring and yellow is for happiness."
While many people buy it, you can make your own gulal. The Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India shows different ways to make colors depending on which one you want. Yellow, for example, is made with turmeric. Mehendi is used to make shades of green.
In 2022, Holi celebrations begin on March 18.