With the festival of Holi a fortnight away, the balloon battles had begun. These days, they’re not balloons but small Made-in-China plastic packets filled with water. Not even the COVID-19 is a deterrent. Fill, twirl, knot, aim and throw with all your might to hit the target with enough force so that the balloon bursts on impact. It’s a lot of fun, but if executed well, it could be a most painful sting that could last a while. And if the balloon lands on an unintended target, well, God save everyone!
The children of Riviera Tower and Alica Nagar (in Lokhandwala Township, Kandivali East) are separated by a weld-mesh fence that provided just the right battleground. Things were getting out of hand. Balloons were confiscated and there were firm orders to call a truce. With this entertainment snatched away, the adults at Riviera were looking for something productive that could engage the children.
The use of flowers to make Rangoli powder had been shared by waste resource management expert Vellore Srinivasan during a workshop held at the township last year. This was in the minds of a few of the Riviera ladies who had attended the workshop, and they struck on the idea of using flowers to make natural Holi colours. Why not get the children to sort and prepare the flowers for this? A few ladies took the lead in collecting used puja flowers from houses and nearby temples, and they asked the children to spend the time they were using to throw balloons at each other, on this activity instead.
A few of us residents from the neighbourhood visited Riviera Towers last night when we heard about what they were doing. It was interesting to see how well they had organised themselves in one part of the building. Floor mats and tables neatly set up.
Flowers needed to be de-threaded and then sorted by colour. The children (and accompanying adults) were enthusiastically pulling the flowers apart. All the balloon-throwing energy redirected!
The fragrance of marigold was all around. There were other flowers as well. Orange, yellow, white, red. The petals of the previous two days had been laid to dry out on the terrace. Once dry, the plan was for this to be ground in a mixer-grinder and a whole lot of aromatic coloured Holi holy powder (literally from adorning the Gods) would be ready in time for Holi on 10th March 2020.
The coronavirus is getting everyone to review the Holi celebration plans in Mumbai (and other parts of India). No large gatherings, no water drenching. One hopes that the novelty of this homemade Holi powder will set a trend for the years to come – natural, no need of water to celebrate, and minimising water consumption for washing off / cleaning up the mess after the Holi party.
A great recycling effort by the residents of Riviera Tower. Flowers need never go into landfills or compost pits. Looking forward to flower Rangoli powder for the festivals ahead.