By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Dehradun, 7 Mar: Navdanya has invited people to join in celebrating an ecological Holi and International Women’s Day with biodiversity based colours that will neither harm health nor the Earth.
Dr Vandana Shiva, President of Navdanya, states, “Women of the world are the primary guardians and custodians of biodiversity and life. They are holding and protecting the ancient and precious knowledge on how to use and preserve biodiversity for healthy food, healthy communities and healthy environments.”
Navdanya is celebrating Women and Biodiversity, taking inspiration from the diversity of nature through colours and food, preparing plant-based natural colours and cooking together special food to celebrate Holi, one of the most important festivals amongst the innumerable festivals of India. Since times immemorial the festivity of Holi has been deeply linked with nature. Its celebrations were meant to say goodbye to winter and welcome Rituraj, Spring.
Navdanya started the organic movement in India of growing food without pesticides and poisons 25 years ago, and initiated the movement of making natural colours for Holi, as alternatives to the toxic colours, that harm the water, soils and ecosystems, as well as practicing natural dyeing of organic cotton, initiating the Fibres of Freedom programme, to support farmers to grow chemically free organic natural fibres as well as to promote indigenous skills and knowledge.
In preparation for Holi, women gathered at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm to cook together and to prepare natural colours, harvest wild and organic plants such as beetroot, flame of the forest, turmeric, spinach and marigold. In the book “Colours of Biodiversity, Abir Gulal, Fibres of Freedom, Annam, Food as Health” (Navdanya 2018), all the traditional recipes are detailed on how to extract colours from the rich biodiversity of plants growing in the fields.
For example, beetroot roots and leaves are dried, and when powdered, they will give red coloured powder. Also, the roots can be sliced and boiled in water to get red coloured water. Flowers of the Flame of the Forest are used to obtain yellow colour. Dried flowers can be powdered, or else, the flowers can be soaked overnight in water to obtain yellow coloured water. Also the dried rhizomes of Turmeric can be powdered to obtain yellow powder colour. However, if a pinch of lime is added to haldi water, the colour of water will change to red.
Women from 18 states of India and from more than 20 countries across the world joined their energies to celebrate the diversity of life, food, languages and culture. After the DWD International Festival on 4 March, a delegation of women from Latin America, USA, Europe, UK, Japan, Africa, Australia and Canada visited the Community of Charba and the Paonta Gurudwara sanctuary.
In Charba, women from DWD met more than 30 women seed keepers from Mahila Anna Swaraj (Women Network for Food Sovereignty). By singing and dancing together all the women joined their hands becoming one community, united in diversity, celebrating the gift of seed.
In Paonta Sahib Gurudwara, women from DWD experienced the Gift of Food, sharing the meal offered by the Gurudwara.