Amidst the hustle & bustle of the narrow bylanes of Pink City, there rests an abundance of cultural and artistic heritage, which is the true essence of Rajasthan! From the many traditional art forms which are kept alive by Jaipurs’ skillful artisans, there is one that makes its appearance only during the Holi festival. We are talking about ‘Gulal Gota’ – Gulal means colours and Gota means small balls. This rare art form of Jaipur needs to be preserved and documented and hence we decided to bring the first-hand experience of what goes into the making of Gulal Gotas. We met the seventh-generation master artist Awaaz Mohammad who is carrying the 400 years old legacy and practicing this craft for the past seven decades.
Settled in the nook of the old Pink City, we visited his home where he crafts wonders of the timeless art of Lac. Awaaz Mohammad is one of several Muslim artisans who are keeping alive the age old tradition along with his daughter Gulrukh Sultana, son Praveen and other family members. Through the long interesting conversation while sitting at his charming little workshop, here is what Awaaz Mohamad ji shared and demonstrated about the unique Gulal Gotas.
The Royal Affair- Awaaz Mohammad briefed about the older days when he used to go to Jaipur’s City Palace with his father with packs of Gulal Gotas where the royals used to play Holi with their guests with it. It was the members of the royal family who roamed around on their Elephants to splash colours on the streets. They used to throw ‘Gulal Gotas’ balls made of Lac and filled with colors to celebrate Holi festivities. They are still keeping this old charm alive.
What are Gulal Gotas ?
Gulal Gotas are made with Lac. The Lac is a natural product that comes from trees like Beri, Kusum, Palash, and others.
Process- Artisans use fire (anghitti) and copper pipettes (small rod) to blow up lac into round-shaped hollow balls. The Lac is very delicate and it is to be done very carefully else the lac will burst like a balloon burst. After blowing it is kept in the water to cool down. One ball weighs around 5 gms. Once they cool and the water is completely dried the next step is to fill them up with approximately 10-12 gms of herbal ‘gulal’ made of fragrant arrowroots and seal them with Parchi (paper cover) with the help of Arrarot glue. The ready balls filled with colors are further packed in boxes. There are multiple hands involved in the entire process and not just done by one person. Mostly the entire family sits and finishes each piece.
The most amazing part of the entire process comes at last when these balls are thrown while playing Holi. It does not hurt anyone but only the splash of colour comes out.
But did you know that Gulal Gota is also a sign of communal harmony as Holi is a Hindu festival & the Gulal Gotas are made by ‘Manihaars’ from the Muslim community.
Where to get it?
We know after going through this interesting blog, no one can not think of not playing with Gulal Gotas. Maniharon Ka Rasta in city fills up with Gulal Gota shops during Holi. Go and get yours!
Interesting Facts About Gulal Gota
• The royals still play with Gulal Gotas.
• 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 add a heritage touch with a playful way of spreading colours over the devotees.
• One Gulal Gota weighs around 15 gms
• Handcrafted – No machine can make it. One Gulal Gota goes through multiple hands from start to finish.
• Eco-Friendly- It can only be made the natural way.
• Authentic- The artisans are keeping Gulal Gota’s authenticity as it was back then. The colours used are only organic and herbal.
• Harmony- The art is practiced only by Muslim artisans.
• Fragile- It’s so delicate that around 30% of the production gets damaged while handling.