Navdanya wishes to all the diverse women around the globe, a colourful and joyful International Women’s Day and a Happy Holi. We invite you to join Navdanya in celebrating ecological Holi with Biodiversity based colours that will neither harm our health nor the Earth that sustains us.
As Dr. Vandana Shiva, president of Navdanya, stated: “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”.
We are 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, and 25 years ago, Navdanya also initiated the movement of making natural colours for Holi, as alternatives to the toxic colours, that harm our water, soils and ecosystems, as well as practising natural dyeing of organic cotton, initiating the Fibres of Freedom program, to support farmers to grow chemically free organic natural fibres as well as to promote our indigenous skills and knowledge.
In preparation for Holi women are gathering at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation farm to cook together and learn how to prepare natural colours, harvesting wild and organic plants, such as beetroot, flame of the forest, turmeric, spinach and marigold on the farm. 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 our 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.
In the lead up to International Women’s Day and Holi Festivity, during the Diverse Women for Diversity (DWD) gathering at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm, 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 March 4th, a delegation of women from Latin America, USA, Europe, UK, Japan, Africa, Australia and Canada visited the Community of Charba and the Ponta 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 Ponta Gurudwara, a fundamental spiritual site for the Sikh religion, women from DWD experienced the Gift of Food, sharing the meal offered by the temple, where food is prepared and offered every day to feed over 70.000 people.
Gift of Food, Gift of Seed, Gift of Life, they all come from care and love. The same care and love that we can learn from nature and Mother Earth.
Women are the depositories of this ancestral heritage, and the most important guardians of biodiversity and diversity of food, culture and language.
We are celebrating Women and Holi by celebrating biodiversity, using the gifts of nature and female power and creativity.
Read more about Diverse Women for Diversity gathering at Navdanya