The colours of India

The colours of India

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It should be no surprise that colours are a vital part of the Indian culture – we have an entire festival (Holi) dedicated to colours! We love colours in our attire, food, religious symbols and in our jewellery. Different colours hold different meanings and the choice of colours often expresses the individual’s religious, political or regional affiliations.

Festivals are marked by buying new clothes and matching accessories for every member of the family, and shades of bright colours like green, yellow, red and orange dominate the scene. Bangles, turbans and even decorations come in these vibrant hues. Almost all religions have specific decorations for each festival. For instance, most festivals share the custom of decorating the house with bright floral garlands, flower carpets and rangoli (designs drawn and filled with colours). More the colour, the merrier the celebration.

Weddings in India are the biggest and most expensive festivals as far as a family is concerned. A wedding demands new clothes and jewellery not only for the bride and the groom but for members of the families as well. Across religions, there are rituals before the wedding and each ritual has a colour associated with it. For instance, the beautification ritual of the bride and the groom is dominated by turmeric and its bright yellow hue. Yellow signifies purity and fertility.

The wedding ceremony itself is dominated by red, green or white according to different religions. But red, the colour denoting feminine power, fertility and prosperity is common across most boundaries. Red is the traditional choice of every bride and a must-have. Pink, orange and the ubiquitous shade of gold are the other indispensable colours that go with weddings.

Green is yet another colour signifying fertility and hope, thus making it a part of every happy occasion. White, cream or off-white combined with shades of gold or silver are also popular choices for weddings, births and initiation ceremonies, to indicate purity of the body and mind, and peace.

India has different connotations for colours when compared to the western world. White or the state of colourlessness denotes purity, but is also a colour that India associates with loss and renunciation. Black is the only negative shade associated with sorrow, death and evil.

The calm blue found everywhere around us, the earthy brown, the purple, violet and orange of flowers…India has always rejoiced in every colour, dark or light, gaudy or muted, dull or bright.

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