Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors, commemorates the beginning of spring and religious traditions. Bonfires begin the festival, but the most popular and joyful aspect of the holiday comes the following day when people of all ages throw colored powders (gulal) and spray colored water (rang) at each other. If you would like an alternative to this messy (but awesome) tradition, there are a number of creative art options to try, such as splatter painting, finger painting and colored sand art.
This year, we had fun with straw painting. My girls enjoyed the process, and the result was quite pretty. I was surprised by the difficulty they had in getting the hang of blowing into the straw–they actually became winded! But once they finally got started, it was hard to stop them. For younger children, this would also make a great color mixing lesson, although we just created our own designs. Traditionally Holi colors are rose, red, green and yellow so you may want to stick to those colors if you want to be more authentic to the holiday.
Tempura paint in red, yellow and green
Tray or box top
1. Thin your paint out with some water. You may need to experiment with this a bit, if the paint is too thick it won’t move when you blow it. If it’s too thin, it will soak through the paper.
2. Place a piece of white paper on a tray or inside an overturned box top. This will keep your paint from getting all over your work surface.
3. Have your child choose a color to begin with and drop a blob of that paint onto their paper.
4. Give them the straw and have them blow at the paint. There’s no need for the straw to even touch the paint, and if they can change the angle that they are blowing from, they will have more evenly spread paint. Continue this process with the other colors.
Of course, you could also be more traditional and celebrate Holi the way it was intended. If you are that brave, this website includes a lot of useful information and directions for making your own gulal and rang.