Colors Of India - Design Pulp
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Colors Of India

Colors Of India

By Divya Pathak

India, a country of diversity and vibrant culture is inspiring to study. The common, simple expressions of color hold together a multitudes of outlooks, lifestyles, and traditions. The symbolism of color stands out and controls every aspect of life in India, be it religion, politics, festivals, or celebrations. It is found in food, fabric, spices, dance, and architecture displaying the richness and knowledge. Just like many other cultures across the world, there are some typical classifications of color to be found in India that may vary a bit depending upon the religion.

In Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism:
Tamas (Darkness) –Black. The color of denial, negativity, death, and decay.
Rajas (Royalty) –Red. The color of passion, anger, energy, fire, and activity.
Sattva (Truth and Detachment)–White. The color of purity, knowledge, and detachment

In Islam:
Green- Jannah (Heaven). The color of life
White- Symbolize purity and peace.
Black- The color of modesty.
Red- Symbolizes life force.

Positive: Purity, Fertility, and Prosperity

Bengali Bride
Image Courtesy of Arpita Dey Bridal Makeup

Red is a very popular color when it comes to weddings, religious rituals, and prosperity. It is considered a very vibrant color, full of energy and also stands for purity. It is the preferred color for brides in many religions and has deep meaning in the Indian psyche. Red is also the color of the base chakra, the mooladhara, which links us to Mother Earth and also to our survival instincts.

Saffron/ Orange
Positive: Purity, Light, and Sacrifice

Spices of India
Image Courtesy of FooDeiz

The most sacred color for the Hindu saffron represents fire. As impurities are burnt by fire, this color symbolizes purity. It also represents religious abstinence. This color connotation has a sacred meaning for the Hindu. It is the color of holy men and ascetics who have renounced the world. Wearing the color symbolizes the quest for light. It is the battle color of the Rajput’s and the Sikh’s- the warriors. It also represents sacrifice for the good of the community, society, and country.

Yellow/ Mustard/ Golden

Positive: Peace, learning, and Spring

Sikh Warriors.
Image Courtesy of and Reuters

Yellow symbolizes sanctity and is an essential herbal ingredient applied on the body and face by women in the subcontinent. Turmeric, for instance, while being used for cooking in both the north and the south, is also used in ceremonies offering prayers and marriages. Yellow also represents earth, sand, and life. The spring season is depicted in yellow color indicating the new beginning. The golden color represents prosperity and good luck. It has great importance in Indian culture

Positive: Nature, Peace, Happiness, Nurture

Teele Wali Masjid, Lucknow, India and Muslim Bridal Dress
Images Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Kolly Bolly Ethnics

Green symbolizes a new beginning, harvest, and happiness. It is also the revered color of Islam, a significant religious presence in India. Deccani brides (Muslims from Deccan region) also wear green for symbolizing fertility- unlike red which is worn by brides elsewhere in the nation. Green in other religions represents life, safety, and environment. Worshiping trees has been an ongoing tradition in India and no rituals are complete without the green color.

Positive: Color of God In Hinduism, Bravery, Stability
Negative: Poison

Blue City, Jodhpur, India. and Lord Krishna
Images Courtesy of House and Garden UK and Learn Religions

Blue is the color of the sky, the ocean, and ‘infinity’. It is also associated with lord Vishnu and all his incarnations. It represents bravery, determination, the ability to deal with difficult situations and stability and that is one reason it was adopted by the sports team of India to represent the country. Blue also symbolizes poison as many wild fruits that are blue in color are poisonous.

Positive: Protects from Evil
Negative: Negativity, Evil, Death

Ladies in Hijab and A Baby with Black Dot to protect him from Evil Eye.
Images Courtesy of Global Sentinel. and Quora

Black color in India is associated with lack of desirability, evil, negativity, and inertia. It represents anger and darkness and is associated with the absence of energy, barrenness, and death. Black is used as a representation of evil and is often used to ward off evil.

Positive: Auspicious, Peace, Royalty, Purity
Negative: Colorless, Sadness

White Tigers from Bengal and Lotus Temple, New Delhi, India.
Images Courtesy of Flikr and Delhi.Gov

As explained earlier, white stands for Sattva or truth and detachment. It also represents calmness, brightness, and luminosity of knowledge. Enlightened gurus prefer wearing white robes even today. While the modern meaning of this color is peace, in India, traditionally, the color was linked to the higher castes and people who detached themselves from the materialistic desires like home, family, money, and pleasure and devoted their life in spreading knowledge and wisdom in the society. For Muslims, white is associated with peace and purity, and is the color they wear for prayers and sacred rites. The Eastern part of India is known for the White Tigers.

India has diverse landscapes, faiths, music, and people, but color unites them and brings them together displaying the rich history and culture of India. Other than the decorative and emotional association, the colors are so tuned in with nature that every color gets a spiritual meaning and significance. As said by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, “India is a place where color is doubly bright. Pinks that scald your eyes, blues you could drown in.”