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  • Writer's pictureJo Langhorne

Lessons from India - Colour

If you’ve been following my Facebook page for the last few weeks you will have witnessed the photos of Soulful India. At the end of every day I would lie in bed and think about the impressions that this amazing country has left on me.  Over the next week, I will write about the lessons India offered as another means to capture the beauty of this place. And for the first, read below.

Lessons from India 

No. 1 – Colour

Originally when Soulful India was planned I was unaware that we would be there for Holi – the festival of colours, so it was simply a bonus to discover that it would fall right in the middle of our journey.  Such a day of celebration, and for us it was spent with a local Varanasi family, 3 generations all living in the one family home, cooperating, working and thriving together.  As we played Holi through coloured water fights on the rooftop, and adorned each other and the family members in yellow, red and purple powder, it set the mood for my first and lasting impression of India – Colour.

Colour is everywhere in India.  From the green and yellow tuk tuk’s racing around the busy streets, to the markets with colourful goods on display, it is the only country in the world I have experienced trucks in every colour of the rainbow, driven by men, some even adorned with hot pink streamers, tassels, flowers and colourful signs.  I mean seriously, can you imagine an Australian truck driver taking to the road in a pastel pink and blue truck with hot pink streamers flying from the side mirrors, but here you look strange if you don’t.

To see every colour on display you need only go to a market and look at the fabrics, scarves, clothing, shoes, food, spices, toys, balloons, bags, cushions, tablecloths, kitchen supplies and jewellery all with colour to add to the landscape.  You cannot escape it, nor do you even want to try.

One thing I was not expecting were the colours in the monuments.  Who doesn’t want to see the Taj Mahal, but the real surprise is when you get up close and experience the thousands of precious stones that are inlayed into the marble, that come to life as the sun sets and rises on this exceptional place.  In complete contrast, you also have the warmth of colour that comes from the red sandstone used in mosques and forts which grow richer in colour from the sun in its various positions.

Everywhere you look you will see Indian women wearing the most beautiful and colourful sari’s, often with 4 different shades of purple in the same outfit.  Or a combination of emerald green with red, finished off with a shiny gold border just to give it a further lift.  It is everywhere, whether you are meeting women on the street travelling with their children or seeing a woman in a market selling bags made of little mirrors and colourful embroidery, colour once again reigns supreme.  As you enter Rajasthan you notice the women adding to their colourful outfits with yellow shawls or scarves worn over their heads to show they are married.  Doesn’t matter if the outfit is bright green or blue, the yellow will be worn with pride. Even in the saddest of stories there is colour.  Only for a short time we sat with a woman who had survived 5 of her children.  Dressed in green, blue and yellow her skin weathered by the elements and the pain of her life, she still found the ability to smile and show us her colours.  Sadness had not taken the colour from her life completely, even though her pain was palpable.

Breathtaking beauty everywhere you look, even below the surface.

Although I’m aware that the post-holiday blues will come knocking at my door, if they haven’t already, one thing I have noticed even only home for 24 hours is the difference in colour.  Australia holds those earthy tones from the ground, the landscapes and even the blue hues from our coast. Colours I love and am drawn to, particularly the blues of the ocean.  Yet I still feel the need to include some more colour in my life.  Practically this might mean adding some colour to my home instead of playing it safe with neutrals and earthy tones.  Not once did I sit on a brown or black sofa in India. They were red velvet, bright green and even pink brocade.  So perhaps I will start with hanging some colour or even wearing more colour as surely 1.3 billion people can’t be wrong. If you see me walking around Parkdale in bright purple and green, just know I’m playing with colour. Who knows, on future trips I might just buy me a sari!

Symbolically it has reminded me to continually live and strive for a colourful life.  I often find I make choices that are against the grain for some, and a bit out there for others, but this is what makes me happy and feeds my soul.  When I don’t choose a colourful life, it is often because I am fearing judgement and criticism, so I need to remind myself to keep making those decisions and not be fearful of moving away from the norm. Including more joy for myself and my family is a priority and I am committing to doing that as often as is possible.  There can never be too much joy and it is merely a decision away. Colourful personalities, experiences, learning, literature, movies, music, food and a colourful home are on my agenda from here on in.

If you asked me to describe India in one word it would be “Colour.”

Colourful people, smiles, food, fabrics, architecture, experiences and above all a colourful soul.

More of India’s lessons to follow.

Jo x

“The soul becomes dyed with the colours of its thoughts.”

Marcus Aurelius

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