Happy Holi

Colorful sky, Happy holi text, TCB logo, festival of colors Indian

Celebrating The Indian Festival Of Colors

Holi - The Indian spring festival of colors. Holi marks the end of winter; the earth is speckled with colorful blooms that signify the arrival of spring. The celebration of Holi is a day and a half long affair. It starts on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) in the Hindu Calendar month of Phalguna, usually between February and March in the Gregorian calendar. 

This religious festival has gained global popularity, with many celebrating the colors, dance, and music without really taking the time to know the culture behind these festivities. We wanted to dip into the traditions behind this festival and the evolution of the celebration. 

Let's dive into the first half of the tradition- 

On the eve of the full moon in the month of Phalgun, a bonfire called a Holi is lit. Traditionally Holi marks the victory of good over evil. One legend tells the tale of an arrogant king, Hiranyakashyap, who asked his subjects to worship him instead of God Vishnu. When his son Prahlad rebelled, the king plotted with his evil sister Holika to kill the boy. 

In a plot to kill Prahlad by burning him to death, Holika tricked him into sitting on a holy pyre. She planned to save herself with a magic cloak. As the fire blazed, with Vishnu's blessing's the cloak flew from Holika's body and encased Prahlad, his disciple, thus saving Prahlad and killing Holika. This story began the practice of "Holika Dahan," where people arrange a bonfire and bring an end to all things evil or the negative energy around.

The second half of the festivities begin the following day. 

In some parts of the country, Holi also celebrates the story of Krishna. Lord Krishna is known for his blue hue; as a teenager, he complained to his mother about being taunted by the girls for his blue skin. His mother asked him to give them a taste of their own medicine and prank them by smearing them with bright colors. This prank of Krishna later became a tradition and a part of the second half of the Holi festivities called Ranga Panchami.

The most colorful festival in India, Holi is a beautiful blend of vibrant colors and indulgent food. We love our Indian culture and India, but it is our duty to bring you the whole truth as a sustainable, environmentally conscious business. While this fascinating festival has deep-rooted traditions, the evolution of the festival has made it a dangerous one. 


While we would like to emphasize the tea'licious treats, we must mention, not all the food tied to this festival is good. Often a milky, intoxicating beverage called "bhang" is served to party-goers on the day of Rang Panchmi. Intoxicated revelers get into motor vehicle accidents, crime rates increase, and so do the number of assaults against women. 

Often, if you're out on the road on the day of Rang Panchami, it is assumed you have given consent to being touched with colors and drenched in water. While Bollywood romanticizes this festival, not all experiences are positive. Under the name of playing with colors, women can be groped and molested. 

Cultural celebrations play a significant role in our lives. But while we are immersed in the festivities, we must not look at them through rose glasses. We must raise a sustainable future generation who knows and respects the culture behind traditions and understands the importance of the evolution of traditions to match the evolution of society and the environment. 


The festival of Holi can be an environmental disaster. While some people do responsibly source wood, hay, and other material for the fire, unfortunately, most people hack down public trees to light Bonfires; the combined whammy of deforestation and air pollution hits hard, with temperatures soaring in the days to follow. The air quality plummets to hazardous, and cases of asthma and respiratory ailments rise. Somewhere along the road, I wonder if people have forgotten the meaning behind the tradition. I would see neighbors competing to see who had the biggest bonfire, sometimes throwing in tree limbs from their backyard to increase the size of their Holi. The way to go is to have a fixed-size communal bonfire for the entire neighborhood to reduce the number of fires being lit and increase communal bonding. 


The following day, people take to the streets, playing loud music, revelers throw colors at one another and drench each other with water. 

Madura and I come from the state of Maharashtra in India; we wonder how people in big cities can waste gallons of water literally throwing it at one another when the farmers in the interiors are losing cattle and crop to drought. It's almost a "let them eat cake" situation. 

Speaking of colors, while we would love for every person to be able to afford and use non-toxic, eco-friendly colors, the fact of the matter is; most colors used in Rang Panchmi celebrations are chemical, toxic, harmful for your skin, hair, eyes, can cause chemical burns. The runoff from these colors is super detrimental to the environment. The poor stray animals are often colored in these chemical colors and suffer allergies and chemical poisoning. 


While water balloons and plastic bags are banned in Maharashtra, people still use them to drench one another in the colored water. The waste from these plastics clogs waterways, harms animals, and can't be treated. It can cause the Mithi river to flood like it did several years back, causing massive loss of life. 


There are many ways to love and celebrate Holi responsibly; let's take a look at a few ways we can have an eco-friendly Holi this year. 


Use environmental-friendly material for the Holi bonfire. 

Follow your tradition in an eco-friendly way. Make a small, short-lived bonfire using scraps like cardboard waste boxes, cow-dung, coconut waste dried leaves, and hay instead of wood. This fire will last long enough for the ceremony and reduce the environmental footprint of your celebration. 


Play Holi with natural colors

Make natural colors using yellow or orange turmeric, fragrant sandalwood, green tulsi neem powder, natural blue flower powder, and pink beetroot powder. Such harmless colors can easily wash off and cause no damage to your skin, hair, or the environment. 

Playing Holi with flowers is another way to celebrate this festival. Make sure to throw the flower waste in garden waste garbage afterward or compost it—a double benefit. 

Shun balloons & plastic bags

Festivities are to spread love and happiness. The use of plastic bags and balloons can cause injury or damage some external organs and the environment. My grandmother suffered 30% hearing loss in one ear for her entire life because she got hit on her ear by a water balloon when she was seven. 

Celebrate Dry Holi

As we mentioned earlier, water is tight, and wasting it seems so inconsiderate. To add to the water used to play Holi, the city uses tons more to clean all the colorful mess left behind the next day. Treating this wastewater alone takes weeks. Allowing kids to use cheap throw-away water guns creates plastic waste. So just celebrate a dry Holi with natural colors and enjoy the true meaning behind the festivities. 

Save Animals 

Fido best sit this one out. Protect the strays by giving them shelter in your housing complex and educate others about the toxic effects of colors on animals. I have personally helped several strays get medical treatment for chemical burns, rashes, and even blindness caused due to colors. The dogs, cats, and cattle often lick the color to get rid of it and end up getting poisoned. Educate yourself, your kids, and your staff and be the voice for voiceless animals this Holi. 

Now that we have gone all eco ninja on y'all let's talk about the tea'licious Maharashtrian Holi treat - Puran Poli.

Madura and The Chai Bar was featured in The American Feast Collective last year for her Traditional Holi Feast- Read more Here.

We are so proud of Madura for bringing the flavor of Maharashtra to U.S.A. 

You must try making Puran poli's this Holi; we are sharing a no-fail recipe for you frim Archana at Ministry of Curry. We have modified it slightly to include The Chai Bar's Rani Rose Sugar for a tea'wist. 


Puran Poli is an Indian delicacy; The Puran is the stuffing of soft-cooked lentils, rose sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, and saffron. 
The Poli is wheat dough rolled into thin flatbreads, filled with stuffing, and cooked on a deep griddle with ghee. A golden brown, flakey soft dessert. 

In Maharashtra, Puran Poli is so synonymous with the festival of Holi that little kids sing it as a rhyme- "Holi, Holi, purnachi poli." 

We are sharing the recipe by Ministry of Curry below with The Chai Bar Rani Rose Sugar. 



Author: Archana Mundhe


Outer Dough


  • 1 cup chana dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup jaggery
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp rani rose sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron optional 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry ginger powder optional 


  • Wash the chana daal 2-3 times. Drain and add daal and water to a heavy-bottomed pot. Let the daal cook on medium-low heat for an hour or 2, stirring few times. Remove any white foam that may rise up.
  • Drain all the water using a strainer (save the water to make katachi aamti, see recipe below). Put the daal back in the pot. Add jaggery, sugar, rose sugar, nutmeg powder, cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, and saffron to the daal. Mix well, and cook, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
  • Cool down the cooked mixture for 5 mins and then blend it to a smooth consistency in a food processor. Make to blend while the mixture is warm. This is our sweet stuffing.
  • Knead soft, pliable dough with whole wheat flour, salt, saffron, water, and oil. This dough should be softer than the normal roti/paratha dough to get soft and flaky Puran poli's. So use water as needed; depending on the brand of flour you use, you may need more or less water. Let the dough rest for 30 mins.
  • Start making balls of the dough and the stuffing which should be of the same size. I usually make mine the size of a lemon. With the ingredients we have here, I usually make 8-10 balls each of the dough and stuffing.
  • Put a heavy griddle on medium-high heat. Roll the dough by using the dry wheat flour that is kept aside for rolling. Make a 4-5 inch diameter circle. Put the stuffing in the middle of the rolled dough and then gather all the sides of the dough on top of the stuffing to enclose it. Roll the poli softly using more dry flour. You can roll this thin or keep it a little thicker. I roll mine thin to about 8-10 inches in diameter. 
  • Gently put the rolled poli on the heated griddle. Cook evenly on both sides to a perfect golden brown color. Add a little ghee to both sides. 



Note – Using filter water or bottle water speeds up the cooking time for the lentils. 

Notes to make the Puran{sweet lentil filling} in the Instant Pot:

  1. Rinse and drain the lentils.
  2. Add lentils with 2.5 cups of filter water and Pressure Cook(Hi) for 10 minutes, followed by natural pressure release.
  3. Strain the liquids from the lentils using a mesh strainer and reserve the liquids.
  4. Return the lentils to the Instant Pot. Add jaggery, sugar, nutmeg, cardamom powder, dry ginger, and saffron. Mix well and cook, stirring frequently until the Puran starts to thicken up. If sautéing in the Instant Pot, cook on sauté(normal) mode to avoid splatters. 
  5. Let the cooked lentils cool down for few mins and then blend it to a smooth consistency in a food processor. Make sure the lentils are not completely cold; they need to be blended while they are warm.
We hope you enjoyed our culturally educating blog and this recipe by Ministry Of Curry. We are so thankful for her fantastic recipes. Do check out her Instagram and Blog for more. #fangirlmoment. 


Please celebrate responsibly and have a happy and safe Holi, 😊 😊


Tea Ta, 

Sargam & Madura. 

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