Holi History: The Origin of Color Dust Festivals
Holi, the ancient Indian Festival Of Color, celebrates the victory of good over evil and a celebration of the arrival of spring and harvests to come. It’s the festival of colors, emotions, and happiness. And what better way to express yourself than with the vibrant colors of the rainbow? The thousand-year-old central ritual of Holi is the throwing and applying of colored water and powders on friends and family, which gives the holiday its common name “Festival of Colors.” Come Holi, India is painted in mesmerizing hues of blues, yellows, magentas, greens, violets, and more. Clouds of colors dancing in the wind carry the message of love and happiness across to all who participate.
In the same spirit of good will and celebration, School-A-Thon presents Color-A-Thon™. Your Color-A-Thon is a fun and happy way to raise money for your school or group that ends with a celebration of music, laughter and the throwing vibrant, safe color dust in the air.
Color Dust Ingredients
School-A-Thon® takes the health and safety of all of our participants seriously. Our Color Dust is non-toxic, 100% safe and is bio-degradable. It is NOT meant for consumption. As with any substance, you will want to keep our color dust out of eyes and lungs.
Actual ingredients include: Corn starch and FD&C and/or D&C colors. Color safety information: Approved for use in foods, cosmetics and/or drugs. These products are not considered hazardous, 29 CFR 1910-1200. Testing data sheets on each color are available.*
Color Dust Health Precautions
Although we have never had any issues in the past, people with allergies and/or asthma may want to take extra precautions when it comes to the Color Dust. The particals are extremently small which is an important factor for people prone to allergy and who have asthma. We suggest that participants with allergies or asthma wear protective masks and/or keep a safe distance from the Color Blast Party and from the Color Blast Stations during the event.
We caution parents to evaluate their child’s tolerance to dust and make appropriate decisions. For all participants we suggest that they wear some type of eye protection such as glasses or goggles. As part of the Color-A-Thon Rewards program, sunglasses are provided at a very low donation level.
We also suggest that a mask, kerchief or some type of covering over the mouth and nose be used to minimize any excessive inhalation of the color dust. School-A-Thon can provide schools and groups with protective masks at a very low cost if your committee believes it is necessary.
Color Dust Throwing Instructions
Approximately 25 lbs. of Bulk Color Dust, made up of 4 colors, is sent to each event. Each of the 4 colors is boxed separately and weighs approximately 6 lbs.
There are up to 4 pre-determined Color Blast Stations along the event route. Each is managed by 2 adults. Color Dust is NOT shot at participants with any type of “gun” or shooting mechanism. Powder is tossed gently and in a controlled manner by the 2 adults at each pre-determined Color Blast Station using a small paper cup. Your Color Dust Throwers along the route should be instructed to toss the color dust at participants’ body (chest down) and not to toss in the faces of participants.
At the Color Blast Party, instruct your participants to toss their color dust packet contents into the air and not into the faces of their friends and fellow participants.
Color Dust Flammability
We have had zero fire-related incidents in all of our Color-A-Thon events and are committed to providing a safe, fun event for schools and groups across the nation.
School-A-Thon™ can confirm that the powder used in its events has been tested for flammability and successfully passed the required EU standards. In addition we have had flammability test done in the U.S. and have those reports for you to review.*
The powder used in the incident in Taipei was different from that used in all Color-A-Thon™ Events and was not provided by the Color-A-Thon™ supplier.
A State Fire Marshal has provided us with additional information and safety tips to help ensure these events are safe and fun for the participants:
The colored cornstarch dust used in these events isn’t normally combustible, but can burn or explode if the particles are the right size and in the right concentration in the presence of an ignition source. Possible ignition sources include open flames and sparks, electrical equipment, hot surfaces, and static electricity.
There are four elements needed for a flash fire/dust explosion:
- Combustible Powder
- Oxygen (Air)
- Ignition Source
- Dispersion of dust into a cloud above the minimum explosion concentration (MEC)
The key to preventing these incidents relies on:
- Eliminating ignition sources
- Reducing dust clouds to concentrations below the minimum explosive concentration (MEC)
Most Color-A-Thon events do not generate sufficient colored powder and cloud dispersion in the presence of air to create a fire hazard because they are much smaller compared to other widely known color events.
Suggested safety measures and protocols to implement with each of event to ensure participant safety:
- Do not use electrical devices to distribute the powder
- A gap is required between stage and the participants
- Smoking is prohibited in the event area
Color Dust Clean Up
The Color Dust is pretty easy to blow off and wash out, but we have some precautions and tips to make it easier for you.
After the Color Blast Party:
Have a Color Dust Blower station set up where volunteers are set up to blow the excess color off of participants. A leaf blower on the lowest setting works great! Instruct parent/guardians/carpool drivers to bring old towels to lay on the seats of vehicles for the trip home.
The color mostly washes out after events. Wearing your white Color-A-Thon™ t-shirt is not only fun but it keeps your participants from ruining “good” clothes.
Instruct participants to wear shoes that they won’t mind getting dirty. The Color Dust is expected to wash out of clothing and off of shoes but depending on the type of clothing, how long the dust sits on the clothing and the different methods of washing clothes, cleaning results may vary. Wash all clothes in a separate load on cold wash and rinse. If participants would like to preserve the color in their shirt, spray it with vinegar and iron it.
Hair and Skin:
We suggest shaking and blowing off as much Color Dust as possible before climbing into the shower. Brush hair vigorously to get as much dust out as possible. Thoroughly wash hair and body with soap and water. Hair may have to washed twice. If hair is light colored, we suggest putting in conditioner to “coat” hair and prevent any discoloration. If hair does become “colored”, it should wash out after two or three shampoos.
Color-A-Thon events use a minimal amount of color and so has a minimal environmental impact. About 25 pounds of bulk Color Dust is shipped to each event. The Color Dust is not harmful to wildlife or vegetation. Use leaf blowers to blow excess color dust off of walkways and to prevent the color dust from being tracked into buildings. If the Color Dust does get tracked into buildings, use a dust mop to clean floors. A shop vac can be used to pick up large amounts of Color Dust.
To minimize the environmental impact of the Color Dust, we suggest that you put down tarps at Color Blast stations. For large amounts of Color Dust, street sweepers and storm drainage containment can be used if deemed necessary by city, town, park or distict officials.
We recommend that you contact your city, park or district officials for best practices and ordinances.
Color Dust and Your Cameras, Phones and other Electronics
Color Dust is…well, dust, and can be very evasive. If you plan on using electronics, wrap them in plastic and tape securely. We suggest using cameras before the race and after the After Blast. If you want to use your camera any time in between, be sure to wrap it securely in plastic.