Happy Holi: How to make your own coloured powders

Try a do-it-yourself approach this year

Reading Time: 2 minutes


Forget chemically produced gulaal (coloured powders) this Holi; make your own instead. They’ll feel good and smell great as well. Try these simple natural techniques.


Red Gulaal Pluck some red hibiscus* flowers, shade-dry and powder them to a lovely red powder. You can add flour to add to its bulk.

Green Gulaal Simply crush dried mint leaves, to make your ‘evergreen’ green powder.

Yellow Gulaal Sunny yellow gulaal is best made with dry marigold flowers if you can find them. (In Sydney at least, they are suddenly in fashion).  Shade-dry and then powder.


(These come with a general caution to be water-wise this Holi. But they are perfect as a wet-splash finish for your home-based Holi celebration).

Blood Red Colour Lal chandan, a popular beauty cosmetic, can make you your blood red water. Add two teaspoons full to five litres of water and dilute further with twenty litres. As an alternative, you could try heavily diluted tomato and carrot juices.

Natural Green Colour Take spinach, mint leaves, coriander and grind to a paste. Dilute with plenty of water.

Royal Magenta Colour Chop a beetroot into slices and soak overnight in a litre of water. Dilute with more water if you wish.

Saffron Colour If you are guessing this one requires saffron stalks, you’re right. It could be expensive, yes, but this bright colour will be the eye-catcher among the usual reds, yellows and greens. All you have got to do is soak some saffron stalks for 4-5 hours and grind them to paste. Dilute with water afterwards.

READ ALSO: Make Holi special with these delicacies

man with gulal colours
Man covered in gulaal (coloured powder). Source: Adam Cohn/ Flickr

Using Food Colours

Dissolve a few drops of colour in a cup of water. Add corn starch, spoonfuls at a time until mixing become difficult, and it looks like a thick paste. Pour onto plastic sheets and leave to dry for a few hours. When completely dry, you can crumble it with your fingers, and pop into a dry grinder to get a fine powder.

* Did you know, the Native Hibiscus is a national emblem of the Stolen Generation of Indigenous peoples in Australia. Its colour denotes compassion and spiritual healing.

READ ALSO: #Holi: Bhang anyone? OK, thandai then!

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