Last updated at 17:51 GMT, Friday, 09 March 2012

Colourful but dangerous

Summary

9 March 2012

Doctors in the Indian city of Mumbai say 163 people have been admitted to hospital following celebrations for the Hindu festival of colours, Holi. The doctors suspect the coloured powders used by the patients in the festival contained harmful chemicals.

Reporter
Rajini Vaidyanathan

Women celebrating Holi.

Holi is one of the world's most colourful festivals.

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Report

Doctors at Mumbai's Sion hospital say dozens of patients arrived at the casualty ward complaining of giddiness, vomiting and headaches. The vast majority were children from one of Mumbai's largest slums, Dharavi. Most are in a stable condition. It's believed they developed a reaction to coloured powders they were throwing.

Across the country, millions of people from all walks of life smear and cover themselves from head to toe in bright paints and powders as is custom for Holi. But there has been concern for some time that some of the artificially-produced dyes, which are cheap to buy, contain harmful toxic chemicals which can lead to serious skin and breathing problems.

There has been a push in recent years to encourage more revellers to use organic and environmentally-friendly dyes to avoid health risks.

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Vocabulary

giddiness

dizziness, feeling like you might fall over

slums

poor, crowded parts of a city, often with bad living conditions

stable

steady, not worsening

a reaction to

a negative effect on the body caused by

all walks of life

many different backgrounds

artificially

man-made

toxic

poisonous or dangerous

push

concerted effort

revellers

people who are celebrating

organic

natural, made without artificial ingredients or chemicals

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