My Colour Of
Joy And Hope
Every Basant Panchami brings in nostalgic moments of childhood with floating visuals rustling rolls of yellow nylon ribbons, lemon dresses with yellow lace detailing, yellow sweet rice loaded with coconut, raisins and Kadhi-Rice for lunch.
My secret love
I had always been in love with the vibrancy of yellow. My love affair with yellow was as surreptitious as any adolescent’s first one. I was crazy for it but scared to openly acknowledge. There were certain standard colours like pink, mauve, white, green, light blue and black or grey which were made to be our destiny.
As a kid, I wore whatever was provided by my father since he was the personal stylist for me, my sister and mom. There was no reason for disliking what we wore as daddy had great talent and aesthetics being an artistic person, yet one thing often disturbed me was that he never made us wear yellow.
I still can’t understand why he never stitched yellow dresses for his daughters or bought a yellow sari for his wife. Presumably the only reason could be that he liked to dress up his both daughters in coordinated clothes and he might be wishing to play safe with colours considering that we both had different complexion tones.
Somehow that was a lesson for me while growing up that one has to compromise for the sake of others in the family. Well, I might be a victim of over thinking here as it could just be his dislike for a bold colour like yellow. Who knows! Anyhow, there might or might not be any moral twist to that but the fact was that I was always dying to wear yellow. Why! Well, I think, I wanted to look different or stand out of the crowd. Once when asked, I was told that yellow makes faces look sickly pale and young people must look nice and bright. Worst part of the story was that I was convinced as “daddy can never be wrong”. A daughter was quiet but a rebel was activated.
Every year, there was this only day of Basant Panchami that made me feel ecstatic as I could cover myself with Yellow all over and around me without any guilt or shame because everyone wore yellow on that day. I was happy following the general norms of the society and rituals till it worked in my favour.
The preparations began one week prior to the D day. Breaking the piggy bank, counting the change, buying yellow ribbon, yellow bangles and yellow bindis and ‘Bobby Pins’, oh! the cheer it brought along was ultimate. My savings could let me afford only that much of yellow and I was happy about it. It felt something like spending all your savings to gift something to your most loved one. This was more valuable as all that was for my joy. I think I was too much in love with myself. The pride in getting all dressed up in bright yellow was great.
Before the final day, I would try out different hair styles and braids (I had long hair then) using the yellow ribbon which was finally washed and ironed to make it look fresh on the day of Basant Panchami. OMG! such beautiful days.
‘Colour-shamed‘ for loving Yellow
In those days, colours were just colours with no psychology attached to them. Each colour was considered on a particular occasion. There were some traditions and societal rules attached to most of the basic colours. We were told by our elders that yellow was the colour that was worn either during religious rituals by preachers or sanyasins. It was linked to sacrifice and renunciation but I always saw yellow as the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness. For me it was a symbol of fresh new beginning, positivity, optimism, enlightenment and cheer.
I remember, how I once mentioned amidst a group of girls that my favourite colour was sunny yellow and became a laughing stock. I was bullied for liking a ‘shitty’ colour like that. Nowadays with so many prefixes with the word shame, I can confidently claim that I was ‘Colour-Shamed’. Oh! by the way aren’t we still doing it even today when we laugh at kids shouting, “Yellow-Yellow, dirty fellow.” I wonder why but in those days yellow was considered a ‘cheap colour’, somewhere bordering on vulgar and bad taste.
Basant Panchami was such a pleasure to my eyes and soothing to mind and I loved being the part of an all girls’ school as I found myself floating in the sea of yellow ribbons all around. In the school, the female teachers wearing yellow saris or salwar suits, males flaunting yellow hankies or shirts; every tiffin smelling of yellow rice was enough for me to be in my desired haven.
Yellow, a journey of ‘self’
Unfortunately, like a teenage love story, my Yellow love also got compromised as my mother never wore a sari in yellow and my daughter rejected yellow as she refused to look like a bumblebee.
Then one fine day the rebel in me woke up to the fact that the taboo must break. I finally made my bold statement by choosing a bright yellow sari for my mother as my first salary gift. Buying a yellow Rajasthani dress for myself was the next step. Frankly speaking it was nothing lesser than a shoutout and coming out bold with declaration, “Yes, I am a regular girl who is in love with the brightest, gaudiest and the ‘shittiest’ Yellow.” Gifting that yellow sari to my mother was like taking a deep breath in and then exhaling, spitting out all shame, guilt and inhibition in one go.
Yellow, the game changer
Time changed the tastes and my dad finally gifted my mother a yellow south silk sari on her birthday. Today yellow no more is a gender or complexion centric colour in India. It brings in such good vibes. What a pleasure it is to see young and old sporting yellow in different ways. In the past few years, the darkest complexioned fashion models have been looking vibrant wearing yellow with so much of grace and elan.Our houses have yellow exteriors and interiors. I have finally made everyone in my family accept yellow and have yellow interiors in our home too. Of course my pet baby too loves wearing his yellow jacket.For me, the colour Yellow, which once signified my curbed desires is now the symbol of an evolving humane society, which is free to make choices and accept individuality. It is coming of age and on this Basant Panchami, Yellow, my colour of joy and hope came back with lots of beautiful memories and a hope for brighter days ahead.
I would have really loved to wear a yellow kurta and tie my hair with a yellow ribbon, but alas! while I am travelling, I do not have a yellow kurta and my hair now are too short to be tied, so I decided to pull out my yellow socks and cook some yellow Jeera rice for lunch.