Why Colour Matters In India

Why Colour Matters in India

Suma Joshi
GM - Marketing - DMA Yellow Works

The ripe purple of a ‘baingan’ ready to be turned into a bharta. A peacock fanning out its lustrous turquoise plumage in anticipation of a thundershower. From a slate gray sky heavy with the promise of the monsoon. A Gujarati Thali, a whole spectrum, with yellow dal, orange aamras, red chhundo, green chutney, pale cream kadhi. The vivid hues of a bandhani dupatta or a Kanjeevaram Sari. Even the Tricolour, our national standard, the Tiranga. Is there any aspect of our country that does not immediately invoke colour?

For how long have we enjoyed this dance with colour? Vedic literature established the relationship. A culture that was based on worshipping the elemental forces of nature wrote poetical hymns to the golden orb of the Sun, the dappled light of the dawn, the lushness of the harvest in the elds, each verse was adorned with evocative descriptions of colour. Each colour was not merely a descriptive adjective; it was layered with symbolic meanings from prosperity and success to fertility and abundance to the promise of renewal and new beginnings. The famous figurine of the dancing girl in her ‘tribhanga’ posture excavated at Mohen-jo-daro from the Harappan Civilisation already shows indications of the use of colour in cosmetic enhancement of feminine beauty. Emotions as classi ed in the Natya Shastra include Shringara, the woman engrossed in preparing herself for a romantic liaison. Using a range of natural ingredients and processes, our ancients had already developed a wide range of colour cosmetics. Kajal or kohl as it is better known to the world, perhaps is the most famous product of this legacy.

Salvation itself is seen as a colourful celebration. Meera describes her union with Lord Krishna as being coloured in his hues. Indeed, the traditional Indian prayer is a celebration of colours: yellow haldi or turmeric, red kumkum, pink gulal, black bukka, creamy orange sandalwood paste, white grains of rice, brown coconuts and of course any number of colourful owers, leaves, fruit and vegetables are all a part of Pooja and Yajna rituals. This then is the land of a hundred colours and a thousand hues. Each part of India discovered fibres that could be woven into fabric, of vegetable as well as animal origin giving us wool, silk, jute, cotton, palm bre and much else that was then dyed using dyes and colours of vegetable, mineral and animal origin. At least one, Indigo or Neel entered the national consciousness during the Indigo Riots at Chaurichaura made famous by Mahatma Gandhi’s intervention to bring the agitation to a peaceful end. It is therefore not surprising that even now, colours have integrated themselves in every aspect of our lives. We are immediately drawn to anything and everything that is colourful. We begin our thought process in colour and not just black & white. And this is the very same thought that we have in DYW when we think of brands, designs….our work speaks the language of colours...

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