Startling Encounters & Unusual Chaos with Colour Choices
Colour choices are highly dependent on the beliefs the people have been following since childhood basis the religion, community, caste and the area they belong to. Colour choices of people also get influenced by the habitat & the people around them.
During our childhood colours were quite simple & beautiful then. It’s only later on that we grew up to realize that colour choices also have a lot of presuppositions attached to them by default.
In this blog post, we will be looking at the Colour Choices in the life of our heroine “Surangi”. The dilemmas, thoughts, and chaos experienced by her.
Surangi is told that Blue is for Boys & Pink is for Girls
Surangi always loved colours. But Blue particularly was her favorite colour since childhood. But growing up she was told by friends & neighbours that Blue is the colour for boys. Pink was the girly colour. Until then colour to her was as defined by her science book as the quality of an object or a substance with respect to the human visual perception of the visible light spectrum which differed in wavelength & frequency.
- Her favourite colour continued to remain the same. There was no specific reason, she liked the colour Blue more & Pink not that much. Also, she wasn’t colour blind as such to the girly Pink colour.
- It made her wonder as to when did favourite colour choice start differing with gender? Why was this norm foisted by the society?
- This colour choice was basically a fad driven by clothing manufacturers & their mass marketing gimmicks driven for years & bought in by consumers. Prior to that babies were dressed in whites. The bizarre truth, a century ago a magazine had emphasized that Pink was for boys & blue was for girls.
- Why not dress your kid in a gender-neutral colour or any colour, rather than a gender appropriate colour? Banish gender stereotyping from childhood basis colour & eradicate the biases from young minds.
Surangi’s colour choice reminds of a Taxicab
One fine day to college, Surangi wore a bright yellow top & paired it with a black pant. Suddenly she heard loud call-outs of “Taxi, Taxi…” inside her college. This surprised her since commercial vehicles were not allowed inside her college campus. She then realized that her friends were teasing her because of her dress colour choice. Her classmates advised her that the combination of yellow & black colour dress hints at a Taxi. Since that day she was cautious in not pairing yellow & black together.
- This time Surangi got influenced by her classmates & bought in the logic given by them. Why was that so? Because she was made fun of.
- Mockery does make one succumb and embrace other’s words & beliefs. She didn’t want others to take jabs at her & so didn’t think practically.
- Black & Yellow colour taxi cabs run in few parts of Mumbai & Delhi in India. The entry of private players has brought in a variety of cab colours. But this memory sub-consciously remained with her.
Do Saffron & Green colour indicate the religion followed by the person explicitly?
It was the first day of college for first-year batch students. Surangi had become a senior by then & was in 2nd year of her college studies. During the break, she & her friends were observing the junior students & making guesses about them, basis their personality & looks. One of Surangi’s friend started demarcating basis the dress colour of students. The girl dressed in Green was believed to be a Muslim & the Guy wearing a saffron shade kurta was thought to be a Hindu. And that’s how most of the people were bracketed into. Wild irrelevant guesses they were. On meeting the junior batch after a few days, most of these presumptions were found to be wrong. This made Surangi’s friend realize that her supposition of people basis the dress colour was an incorrect judgement technique.
- Now, why did Surangi’s friend resort to this technique? She wasn’t against any religion & was neither an extremist. Sub-consciously one might pick up colour choices from family, friends & habitat.
- During her childhood, the words about religious colour demarcation were spoken to her, by her grandfather regularly. These somehow got engraved in her mind.
- Saffron is a sacred colour in Hinduism. It represents sacrifice & religious abstinence. It is usually worn by sanyasis/holy men. The green colour is usually associated with Islam.
- Colour beliefs might be due to a religion followed. But the colour choices of people’s clothes might be basis their liking & fashion trends as well.
What colour is the Wedding Dress?
Surangi was to wear a yellow saree which was to come from her in-law’s side for the wedding rituals, as per the customs of her paternal/maternal family. While the saree which came from her in-law’s side was a red coloured one. Hence Surangi wore a red colour saree for the wedding rituals. Even in an arranged marriage within the same community, the colour of the dress might vary due to the difference in areas. Imagine the colour choice mishmash in love/love cum arranged marriages.
- Most bridal dresses traditionally in India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan are red in colour. Since Red is considered auspicious. While Christians & few Hindu communities of Kerala do wear gold/ white with gold border. Gujarati brides wear white saree with red border.
- While in Western cultures, brides often choose white as the colour for their wedding dress.
In Japan also, brides wear a pure white kimono & maybe even a red kimono for a different ceremony. In Iran, Egypt, Philippines also the bridal dress is mostly white.
- White as Bridal wear colour was made popular in the 19th century by Queen Victoria. Prior to the Victorian era, bridal dresses were of different colours, with black being especially prominent. White which used to be the colour of mourning earlier became a trend for bridal wear & black became the colour of mourning.
- Religion, culture & also influencers like royalty have an impact on the trends as well as traditions.
What should be the colour of the bangles?
A few days prior to Surangi’s wedding, she was made to wear thick black bangles called Kachere. Since they were considered auspicious in her paternal family. She wore it along with the glitzy bangles matching her wedding dress, the lehenga. After marriage when she went to her in-law’s place, she was questioned by shocked family members & relatives. Since in the area where they lived, light green was the colour of Kachere which was supposed to be worn by the bride & not black. And her black kachere were changed to light green ones immediately.
Though post-wedding, being a north Indian Hindu married woman, Red is the colour of bangles to be worn. Also, in certain areas, a combination of red & yellow is worn after a child is born.
And so, on the first day of office after her wedding, Surangi wore red bangles to the office. She was questioned as to why she was wearing red & not green colour bangles since that was the colour worn by ladies in the area where her office was.
- Surangi recalled that her friends wore different colour bangles basis the auspiciousness of colour considered in the part of the country where they belonged to. India truly is a land of diversity. Somehow men luckily have been saved from colour confusions since they don’t have to follow most of such rituals.
In India, colour & material of bangles differs from state to state & of course religion wise as well. Have listed a few of these below:
- Maharashtra: Green glass Bangles in odd numbers with gold bangles called patlya, kadas called tode
- Most North Indian States: Red/maroon bangles of glass/lakh
- Sikh/Punjab: a set of red/maroon & white/ivory colour bangles called Chuda. Worn for at least 40days/1 year/15 months
- Gujarat: Green, Gold, Red, ivory bangles chuda set
- Most South Indian States: Gold bangles & kadas are highly preferred
- West Bengal/Orissa: Coral Red & White Conch Shell Bangles known as Shankha Paula & an iron bangle which may/may not be gold plated
- Goa: a set of colourful bangles of green, brown,yellow/7 colours of rainbow called Chuddo. The Chuddo ceremony is a common tradition amongst the Hindus & Christians of Goa.
Is Black perceived only as a Party Favourite colour?
Surangi had always heard from all her friends that “Black” is an all-time party wear colour & can never go wrong. Besides the photographs of all the page three celebrities always looked chic & classy in newspapers & magazines. All the glossies stated that LBD, the Little Black Dress as its quoted famously was a staple wardrobe necessity.
And so, on one of her friend’s kid’s birthday party, she decided to wear a lovely black saree with sequins & a gold border. She knew she was looking good & hence had expected to receive a few praises from her friends. Praises did come along her way, but along with a few stares. Finally, one of her close friends came & told her that the hostess of the party felt bad & was upset with her. The reason turned out to be her black saree. As her friend, the hostess of the party considered black to be an inauspicious colour.
- Our heroine felt awkward & remembered that Black was considered inauspicious by many communities as it also represented darkness, the absence of light/colour & ignorance. She thought to herself that for her it was just a party but for the hostess, it was an important & an auspicious day.
- Since auspiciousness of the colour changes with beliefs & area/region. Sentiments of a person, the importance of occasions & festivities also lead to a strengthening of beliefs of colour Scientifically a Black object absorbs all colours of the visible spectrum & reflects none of them to the eyes.
How about pastels & white as the colour choice?
One day Surangi wore a pastel yellow colour kurta which she had recently shopped online. It was the trending colour worn by a top actress in the latest movie. The clouds gathered & started covering the sky swiftly. And suddenly it started raining cats & dogs. The new Kurta got printed for free with irregularly sized polka dots. Thanks to the potholes on the road & the courtesy of speeding vehicles which splashed the chocolate brown colour muddy water from the road on her brand-new kurta. She realized that pastels & white were considered to be stapled colours of summer & not monsoon. She had followed the fashion trend which turned into a messy disaster.
Surangi recalled as to how her mother had maintained her white & pastels wardrobe at one point of time during her school days. In that season those were the only colour shades in her otherwise colourful wardrobe. The reason was that she had got sunburns and burnt coal tan on her otherwise natural human skin as a result of enthusiastically participating in annual school sports day & marching to glory in hot burning summer days. And it was her strong belief that wearing light colour clothes was the only solution to her predicament.
- Colour choices are also affected by seasons, nature & fashion trends. Pastels & white are recommended colours of summer. Since light coloured clothes are better at reflecting sunshine & keeping the body cool. While dark colour clothes absorb sunshine & are worn in winters to keep the body warm.
- White is considered the colour of widowhood in India. It is the colour of mourning amongst Hindus in India & is considered inauspicious. While in many western countries as stated in the sections above already, it’s the bridal wear colour. Scientifically in lay man’s words, a white light contains all wavelengths of visible light.
The name “Surangi” means colourful. Hence the name of our heroine has been intentionally chosen to describe her version here. Different people perceive colours differently. All colours have different energies. The purpose of this blog is not to state which colour is better than the other. But to describe the confusions created due to differences in colour perception. There is a lot of variety in colour beliefs. The meaning & the reason for a colour choice is different for each individual as well as a community. Love all colours, wear what colours you like. But the best principle is “Don’t offend anyone & Don’t get offended by anyone. If you do offend, ask for a pardon; if offended forgive.”
Have you encountered any such colour choice experience like Surangi? Do share with us in the comments below.
I am a dreamer, marketing enthusiast, home-maker who believes that everything & every day teaches us something. We just need to be ready to observe & learn from it. I like to share thoughts, short stories, experiences, observations, learnings, reviews by penning down through my blog. I am a Banker by profession with an educational background in Engineering & Financial Mangement. I like to read, draw, paint, watch movies, travel & try my hand at cooking.