Holi, otherwise known as ‘the festival of colours’ is an ancient Hindu tradition that celebrates a variety of things such as the eternal and divine love of Radha Krishna, the triumph of good over evil and the arrival of spring.
During the festival, everyone participates in the ‘throwing of colours’ which involves exactly that. Everyone throws colour powder at one another, which results in an explosion of colour within the streets of India.
Traditionally only the colour red was utilised during Holi celebrations, however as time has passed, more and more colours have been added to the rainbow of colours used. The colour choices aren’t just because they’re pretty though, they all have a meaning associated with them too. So we thought we’d provide a brief description of why each colour is important and what they represent.
The colour red is associated with a number of traditions in India. Brides and married women wear red and it’s also the colour of weddings and life in general. Not just for Hindus, but for Muslims, Buddhists and Jains too.
When a married woman passes away, her body is traditionally covered in a red cloth, however when a woman becomes a widow, she symbolically never wears red again and at her death is instead covered in white (to signify purity and renunciation).
Many people in India also mark their forehead with a red dot known as a tilak. This is to remind them that the body is a temple and that everyone and everything on the planet is sacred. It also signifies which Hindu religious group the person is part of and is said to bring the wearer good luck and ensure their health and safety.
In Hinduism there are three main deities: Shiva the destroyer, Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver. Vishnu spends eternity sleeping until they are called upon when a crisis occurs. They then appear as one of their ten avatars and proceed to save the world. Vishnu’s blue skin is one of the major inspirations for this choice of colour.
Green represents the celebration of nature and happiness and is also the colour associated with one of Vishnu’s avatars, Prince Rama, who spent the majority of their life in exile in the forest. In certain areas of central India, married women often wear green bangles and saris in Rama’s honour. However a widow would never wear green.
The sacred colour of India, yellow is the colour of sunshine and happiness. Many of the gods such as Vishnu and Krishna are often depicted wearing yellow and the colour itself is actually believed to have healing powers. This is probably due to its association with turmeric, which has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries within India.
This is an innocent and cheerful colour that symbolises youth and playfulness. It’s a more recent addition to Holi celebrations and can often be seen in the clouds of colour powder that smother the streets of India during the celebration. It’s also not associated with either gender within India, so is a colour of choice for everyone.
Orange is associated with strength and is a sacred colour in many Eastern religions, Hinduism included. Hindu monks wear orange robes and bright saffron turbans. Orange also represents the sacral chakra, which is the energy centre of one’s self. Whilst the usage of the colour orange in the flag of India represents the strength and courage of the Indian people.
Purple is a combination of the passion of red and the calmness of blue and is often associated with royalty, power and wealth within India. It’s also the colour of the crown chakra, which is the seventh chakra that is located at the top of the head. It’s believed that with a balanced crown chakra, you’ll find increased synergy between your physical self and the spiritual realm. It’s often seen as a bridge to the cosmos itself.
As you can see, there’s a variety of colours used during the festival and each and every one has a meaning or two associated with it. Something to think about the next time you celebrate Holi.
Here at Ministry of Colours, we stock each and every one of these colours in our colour powder range, which are perfect for Holi celebrations and colour powder parties in general. Our clever calculator will help you to determine how much powder you’ll need based on the number of people attending too, so you’ll be celebrating in no time.