“Gulal Gota”, word may seem foreign to some but not to Rajasthanis. A traditional art form that is kept alive by Jaipurs’ skilful artisans (Karigars) for the past 400 years. The unique craftsmanship goes hand in hand and compliments the most colourful festival (Holi) in the best possible way. These harmless lac balls or Gulal Gotas take Holi’s playfulness to another level. So, today let’s learn what exactly are these colourful lac balls? And how these talented artisans are keeping this tradition alive?
9 Things One Should Know About Gulal Gota:
Point#1: History of Gulal Gota:
Being from Jaipur, the land of heritage and culture, even Gulal Gotas are as old as Jaipur’s folklore. Gulal Gotas were and still are an integral part of royal families and their Holi celebrations. Even the famous Avaz Mohammed Ji used to go with his father to the City Palace when he was a kid. We’ll cover his story in the following points.
Point#2: How Are These Made?
Gulal means colour, and Gota means Balls. For making these small round-shaped containers, Lac (a sticky material produced by various insects) and Firoza (a plant-based glue) are mixed and boiled together in hot water. The residue is so soft that it can be, handled with bare hands. Once the colours are added, it is again re-heated and then, with the help of a steel rod or Phukani air is blown into the small balls. To make it hollow, and later organic colours are filled in it. Each ball weighs from 10 to 20 grams. Here is the video that will help more to understand the process better.
Point#3: Where Is It Made?
These safe and colourful Lac work balls are prepared in the very homes of these proficient artisans. Furthermore, all the family members sit down together in making the round-shaped balls packed with herbal colours.
Point#4: How Is It Eco-Friendly?
As the art form is no less than the legacy chain, running through these distinct generations of Karigars. The colours used in those days were organic and herbal. Even today, the artisans are keeping Gulal Gota authenticity as it was back then.
Point#5: Where Can You Find It and, Where Is It Exported?
Speaking of the streets of Jaipur, Maniharon Ka Rasta fills up with Gulal Gota shops during Holi. These Lac work balls are highly demanded and even shipped in other parts of the world. Such as – Canada, Britain, Australia, Spain, France and Nepal.
Point#6: Famous Craftsmen Who Make These:
Another fascinating thing about Gulal Gotas is that all its artisans belong to the Muslim community. And one of them is Awaz Mohammed Ji, a masterclass artist with Rajasthan Studio, and he and his family have been in this field for seven generations. Here is his story in his own words. But the sad part is the families who are giving their all aren’t getting enough to sustain their livelihood from this art form.
Point#7: How The Royal Family Play Holi With Gulal Gota?
As stated above, royal families are the ones who started this friendly battle of Lac work balls filled with dry coloured powder and still are the ones who are keeping this old charm alive. Tales are, back in those days, members of the royal family roamed around on their horses to splatter colours with Gulal Gotas on the streets.
Point#8: How The Present Generation Is Keeping It Alive?
In recent years, youngsters have contributed their share in popularising Gulal Gota and made this Lac round-shaped colour cracker trending. Not only this, even the market demand has seen a hike in the last two decades.
Point#9: Apart from Holi, Where all it is used?
Apart from the festival of colours, these balls are even used in traditional temples of Jaipur. Besides Jaipur, Gulal Gotas are also used in other parts of the nation, like Mathura and Vrindavan. These fragrance packed herbal-colourful balls adds a heritage touch with a playful way of spreading colours over the devotees.
Gulal Gota is the best example of old charm and its beauty. It’s time we cherish this art form and bring it back in fashion. Thank you to all the artisans’ and their families who are still making these small packets of happiness.
Follow Rajasthan Studio on Instagram for more amazing art and travel content. Reach out to us on email at contact[at]rajasthanstudio[dot]com. This blog is curated by Rajasthan Studio and written by Kritika Tak.