Colors are virtually everywhere in India: they’re on the streets, in the buildings, and worn as traditional outfits as well. These colors symbolize something that the wearer (or the architect) wants to express, and have a far deeper meaning than just being beautiful.
If you’re wondering what to wear for your business meeting in India, here’s a lesson on the most commonly used colors and their meaning.
Red symbolizes purity, fertility and prosperity.
Red is the color of a traditional Hindu wedding dress; and during many other religious ceremonies, a red mark is sometimes applied on the foreheads of participants. Married women wear red paint on the parting of their hair (this is called sindoor). The color of the Bindi (a dot worn on the forehead between the eyebrows to mark the place of the third eye chakra) is usually red as well. In the southern part of India, red may also be associated with force and disruption.
Saffron (golden yellow) is a sacred color for Hindus.
It symbolizes purity, light, and religious abstinence. Many Hindu holy men and ascetics are depicted wearing saffron, which symbolizes their quest for light.
Green is the color of festivities.
It represents life, peace, happiness, and nature. For Muslim Indians, green has a significance as well, since Islam is usually associated with this color. For Muslims, green means peace, and according to their beliefs, inhabitants of paradise will be clothed in green. Legend says it was the Prophet Muhammad’s favorite color.
Yellow is the color of learning.
It represents spring, as well as mental development, peace, and meditation. Participants at spring festivals wear yellow, and it’s the traditional color worn by single girls in search of a partner. Vishnu, the God of Protection and Preservation of Good is often depicted wearing yellow garments, along with Krishna, the God of Tenderness and Love, and Ganesha, the God of New Beginnings.
Blue is associated with the creation of the world.
It symbolizes bravery, determination, stable mind and depth of character. Krishna therefore is often shown with blue-ish skin.
Black is the absence of light.
It’s often associated with lack of desirability, negativity, evil, even death. Interestingly, black is also the color of protection against evil; sometimes a black dot is painted under a person’s chin or behind the ears to protect against the evil eye.
White is the absence of color.
Widows traditionally wear white, because it means that they abstain from all pleasures and luxuries of life. Mourners at funerals often wear white as well. For Muslims, white is associated with peace and purity; white is the color Muslims wear for prayers and sacred rites.
For Muslims, white is associated with peace and purity, and is the color Muslims wear for prayers and sacred rites.
If you’re about to attend a business meeting with Indians, it’s best to stick to formal wear and pastel colors, as Indians usually prefer a more formal dress code for business purposes. Avoid bright colors, because they might be interpreted as the concepts they represent instead of simple fashion choices. You can do no wrong with dark blue, gray, or beige.
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