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Posted at: Jul 12, 2018, 12:30 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2018, 12:30 AM (IST)

Not the orange it was

Not the orange it was

Latika Sehajpal

COLOURS spark and refresh a sagging mind and a sunken spirit. After MBA, colour therapy was my business idea to continue my love affair with colours as well as bring peace to troubled minds. However, as I grew in national and international consciousness, I realised colours were extremely value-loaded. They changed their meanings. They assumed different identities, resonated different mentalities and beliefs. It struck me with both awe and shock, marvelling how the human mind manipulated the neutral givings of nature and turned them into extreme emotions espousing love and hate.

I realised that colours signified the spirit and the essence  of beliefs held by people. Nations, movements, revolutions, wars and resistance, all bound, and still bind, themselves to specific colour(s) which best expressed their belief. The black-white-red of the Nazis, the black sails of the sea pirates, the black flags greeting Simon Commission in India, the black bands of ‘Me Too’ are examples of how a single colour espoused different meanings to different people. ‘Black’ symbolised power, mystery, anarchy, protest. 

A country like India cannot escape an analysis with coloured lenses of politics, society, divisions and classes. The colours of Holi and the dehan of colours in the name of these divisions are remarkably easy to spot across the country. Do we acknowledge this colour symbolism? Do we realise that our subconscious mind accepts and rejects ideas and philosophies according to the colour they are depicted in? Do we frown when buildings are painted orange or blue to depict differences in political identities, or do we celebrate this re-painting of Indian history into one grand cultural renovation? 

We shut our minds and colour our imaginations about past and future with the colour of our chosen identity. In this coloured India, green meant a religion; red stood for Communism; pink for feminism; white for monarchy; black racism; orange — my favourite —became an ideology. 

Many colours depicting ideologies have coexisted in the cosmos of beliefs, pulsating between relevance and irrelevance, reverence and irreverence, throughout the history of India. What made orange a case so special? None captured the imagination of millions like orange did. To its believers, it is a saviour born to bring the pride of a religion back. To non-believers, it is a colour so terrifying that it needs to be thwarted and contested. Such is the power of orange that it fuels dedication and hatred in equal terms. 

The orange which signified revolutionary quest for freedom is now a hostage to its past. It is shackled by political manipulation and economic greed. It is pervasive and dominating our cultural, political, bureaucratic and economic discourse. It is powerful. But it is not my orange. 

My orange was about an ancient religion that was powerful in peace. It was wiser than a spawned ideology, truthful than a handful of hateful lies. It was moral and did not need fringe elements. It was conspicuous in its silent presence and did not need fervent reminder of glorious pasts. It was the foundation of the meaning of religion and did not need to contest its greatness. 

But today it is losing its shine by burning so bright that it is setting itself on fire. It lacks the warmth. I cannot wear it anymore.They took my orange.


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