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The symbolic meaning behind the colours of Holi, the Hindu 'festival of colours'

WordsMegan Lambert

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Symbolising the triumph of good over evil and the oncoming spring, the Hindu festival of Holi is a time when children and adults take to the streets in pristine white kurtas and throw gulal (coloured powder) to celebrate together. If you’ve been lucky enough to ‘play’ Holi then you’ll know it’s a lot of fun, not to mention very, very messy.

Traditionally, the colours were made from flowers, spices, and herbs, but today they’re mostly synthetic (and much more difficult to get out of your clothes)—although more recently, there’s been a return to natural alternatives. And, just as with colour psychology, there’s a symbolic significance behind each of the Holi colours. So read on to take a closer look at the meaning behind the colours of Holi.

Green: the first colour of spring

The festival of Holi demarcates the beginning of spring and coincides with some smaller agricultural festivals across the country. Therefore green - the first colour of spring and new beginnings - is prominent in its celebration. And it’s not just according to Hinduism.

Similarly, according to colour psychology, it represents peace and serenity, nature, as well as new beginnings and new growth. Charlotte, our International Color Consultant, explains how “green represents peace and harmony, a colour we have seen many gravitate towards over the last couple of years. It is a gentle reminder of new beginnings, not just in mother nature but in our homes/ourselves too”. This idea has even made its way to everyday speech: there’s a reason we describe someone who is new or inexperienced as being ‘green’!

Blue: the God’s

The blue skin of some of Hinduism’s most powerful gods and goddesses represents the infinite and immeasurable, like the apparent endlessness of the sea and sky. Much like in colour psychology, where it can be linked to our intuition, along with a sense of reflection, serenity, and clarity. The colour blue, or indigo to be precise, is also hugely significant throughout Indian handicrafts. In fact, it was the latter of the two ‘blue mutines’, led by Mahatma Gandhi, that would ultimately lead to Indian independence in 1947. So in many ways, it is the colour of freedom.

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