Colours with Kalyani - part 3

A month of festivities has gone by, a time filled with colours and lights. Let’s embark on another area of discussion on colours.
Colours have been used in stories and poems by writers and poets,since a long time. Colours are used to create emotional images of their characters, scenes and even events. All languages use a system of symbols, either verbal or written.
Symbolism of colour in literature imparts a deeper meaning to the words, which in turn, help transform the content into a more powerful expression. The best examples of colour and symbolism in literature is found in folklore, fairy tales and so on. As red as blood or as white as snow or as black as the crow.
Colours represent various moods of a person, of life and even how nature expresses itself. It’s a powerful means to communicate human feelings. The folklore includes the stories, songs and poems that is passed on through generations with much being added along its journey.
Sarojini Naidu was among the finest poets of India. A pioneer I would say. She wrote mainly on the rural, the folk aspects of a variety of Indian culture. Women’s experiences were put out too. She was called the nightingale of India. Her poems are remarkable for the colour, grandeur and romantic beauty.
She paints the panaroma of Indian life with all the shades of colours and moods. She has made use of colour associated words to symbolise various aspects of life.
Indian weavers (philosophy of life)
The bangle seller (expressions of stages in a woman’s life)
In praise of henna (ritual and tradition)
A few of her poems.

A KOKILA called from a henna-spray:
Lira! liree! Lira! liree!
Hasten, maidens, hasten away
To gather the leaves of the henna-tree.
Send your pitchers afloat on the tide,
Gather the leaves ere the dawn be old,
Grind them in mortars of amber and gold,
The fresh green leaves of the henna-tree.
A kokila called from a henna-spray:
Lira! liree! Lira! liree!
Hasten maidens, hasten away
To gather the leaves of the henna-tree.
The tilka's red for the brow of a bride,
And betel-nut's red for lips that are sweet;
But, for lily-like fingers and feet,
The red, the red of the henna-tree. 
Colours of Henna
“In praise of Heena” green is the colour of life. It is the colour of seasonal renewal, green symbolises hope and immortality. Green is also associated with regeneration, fertility and rebirth due to its connection with nature.
Red is the colour of fire and blood. It’s has both a positive and negative connotations. On one side are bloodshed, aggression, war and hate. On the other it also alludes to love, warmth and compassion. Both with great intensity.
Yellow is associated with sunshine, knowledge and the flourishing of living creatures, but also with autumn and maturity. The yellow sun was an important symbol and worshipped as God in many cultures.
White represents freedom, purity and innocence. Black represents death and illness. The high contrast between black and white is often used to represents opposite concepts. Eg: night and day, evil and good. In humans colour psychology plays an important role.
Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair...
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.
Some are meet for a maiden's wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow wth the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves
Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart's desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.
Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband's side
Bangle seller Sarojini Naidu poem
The bangle sellers is a fine example of her colour, imagery and music in the verses. It shows how bangles have played an important part in symbolising the different stages in a woman’s life not only as an adornment.
Whenever one speaks of bangles a picture of lustrous, coloured circles comes to ones mind. The poetess indicates the different shades of bangles worn in various stages in a woman’s life. The second stanza “silver and blue as the mountain mist”, “some are fields of sunlit corn, meet for a bride on her bridal morn”. How the colours compare it to nature and its lustre. It metaphorically symbolises the purity and chastity of an unmarried girl with these blue silver bangles.
The stanza three starts with a pictorial image. Bangles coloured with rich colours like the fields of sunlit corns. The colour yellow, thus refers to the boundless happiness of a bride on her wedding morning.
The final stanza reflects the stages of a woman’s life. Bangles of purple and gold flecked grey suit the middle age woman. The purple colour is of pride and royal living. Gold flecked grey symbolises the wisdom and maturity of age.
One can then traverse so much poetry to see how colour is used to express emotions and allow the reader to be involved in interpreting the connections.
I have just used two poems of one poet. There are many. Hope you journey into the world of poems and enjoy the words and the colour that forms part of its rendition.
Till we meet next time to talk further about colours....


Earlier episodes of 'Colours with Kalyani':

Part 2: Colours & birds

Part 1: Colours in nature

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published