Colors in Hinduism
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions still surviving today. It’s well known for the diversity and vibrancy of the mythology, the numerous rituals, and the traditional religious piety of true believers. Color plays an enormous role in the Hindu culture and religion; from the colors associated with different gods to the sacred symbols and auspicious charms.
There are more gods in the Hindu faith than can be named by any one person. However, a few of them are rather more focused on in religious tales, and therefore these few are relatively well-known amongst the wide girth of the Hindu population.
The Lords Rama and Krishna, the heroes of the mythical tales of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, have always been depicted with blue skin. This is because blue is considered the herald of creation, and these two Gods devoted their life on earth to vanquishing evil in order to protect the good. As can be seen from the world around us, blue is one of the most used colors in nature—the sky, the lakes, the rivers, the oceans—and thus blue was always regarded by Hindus as highly auspicious. Blue was also representative of bravery, masculinity, depth of character, and the ability to deal with difficult situations in a calm, reasoned manner.
White has always been the color of sanctity. Representing all that is pure and peaceful, many of the goddesses have a white garb. Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom and Learning, is always shown in a white sari. The white lotus is also symbolic of clarity, knowledge and cleanliness. It symbolizes new beginnings, therefore, on each Indian New Year, it is a tradition for the small homeowners to whitewash their walls and clean their homes to welcome the New Year. White is also a mark of mourning, and widows are expected to dress in white in order to show their grief and detachment from the material world as their husbands have departed.
Red, apart from its derivative, saffron, is probably the most essential color in the Hindu faith; red being the main color used to symbolize an auspicious occasion. The traditional bridal dress has always been red, and a red mark on the head of a devotee is put on for religious ceremonies. Traditionally, all married women are to have a red streak along the hair parting, and red powder is often used in sacred rituals; during which things are showered on idols and objects tossed into the fire. Red is also symbolic of power. A person dressed in red is one with utmost courage and chivalry towards humankind. When women die, they are dressed in a red sari and then cremated, as a mark of respect for their character.
Saffron, a shade considered the very symbol of holiness and religion in Hinduism, also plays a vital role. Many priests still wear the traditional saffron robes, and in older times, a saint meditating in a forest could always be recognized by his saffron garments. In Hinduism, all evil is removed by casting objects into a fire. The fire is said to be a purgative, and as saffron is the color of flame, it too is thought to have the same characteristic. Warriors setting out to purge the land of evil would often dress in saffron as well. Saffron is the color of abstinence, purging and resultant purity.
Green has always been the color of happiness and stability. In ancient times, the life of the people revolved around the green produce of the land, so green was regarded as reassuring steadfastness.
Yellow is the color of spring. Radiant and all-enlightening, this color is knowledge, competence and mental development. It is the color that stimulates the mind and encourages logical reasoning. Lord Vishnu, a god of learning and knowledge, is represented by yellow. Both Lord Krishna and Ganesh wear yellow dresses as well, reflecting their depth of wisdom.
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