The Hindu Wedding: Part Three
In this third installment of my Hindu wedding series, I will discuss the significance and symbolism of colors in the Indian subcontinent. There, on a daily basis, one can be endlessly dazzled by the varying array of hues which can be found in homes, temples, market places and on meal tables. Each tint has a specific meaning or is associated with a specific god or force of nature. As a result, many colors possess a sacred significance in the hearts of the people.
The most memorable and flamboyant color display occurs during the spring celebration of Holi. This year, the holiday began Saturday, March 19th and ended on Sunday, the 20th. During this “Festival of Colors,” a mood of playfulness and joy permeates the atmosphere as fistfuls of colored powder, known as gulal, are thrown by participants. In this way and in other arenas of Indian society, from the hue of a Hindu monk’s robe to the embroidered extravagance of a bridal sari, colors enrich and enhance daily life. In the process, the mundane is enlivened and elevated to a new level of significance and purpose.
- The sacred; the divine
- The sun and solar power
- Vishnu, the preserver and sustainer of life, who is also one of the three gods of the Hindu trinity. He usually wears yellow clothes, thus the color has come to signify the terrestrial because he came to earth in various incarnations to uphold righteousness, justice and peace.
- The Vaishya – the third of the four traditional castes, or “varnas,” in India. This mercantile group consists mainly of farmers, traders and businessmen.
- The color of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, fortune and beauty (material and spiritual). This deity is typically depicted wearing a red sari embroidered with gold.
- Strength, power, energy and valor because it is the color of the Kshatriya – the second highest of the Hindu caste system. This group is made up of the military class and those who rule or govern.