The Color Red

I bought a wonderful book, Anne Varichon's Colors:  What They Mean And How To Make Them when I was at the Berkeley Art Museum.  (I fully admit a personal weakness for museum gift shops.)  It's a beautiful and not surprisingly colorful book bursting with cultural history and beautiful images.  I've been debating the last couple weeks about where to start... blue?  Such a beautiful color with often conflicting meanings and connotations.  Black?  Deep symbolism there.  Purple?  Tinged with history.  Saffron?  Clear connection to India.  But after a long phone call this afternoon with a close friend, I've decided it's got to be red.

Red Tara
She is unexpectedly, but happily, pregnant.  In a month she's moving across the Atlantic to be with her fiance.  A new country, a new marriage, a new baby, and a new life are all taking shape for her in the next few months.  It's fertility in the fullest sense of the word: creation and new beginnings in every area of her life.  Red is of course the color of Tibet (once you get below the turquoise sky), and since she's both a practitioner and marrying a Tibetan it's especially appropriate.  According to Varichon "more than any other color, red symbolizes strength.  It is intimately linked to the blood of life, and therefore to death.  In relation to the feminine, red evokes fertility."  And to bring about this scale of change, all at once, you know she's got red on her side.     

Since I met her in Hindi class (we were the only two white girls in beginning Hindi at Cal, so naturally we struck up a conversation), it's worth mentioning the Hindu Indian side of things as well.  Red is of course the color of marriage: red wedding saris, red sindoor, red bindis.  It's so ubiquitous at Indian weddings that I'm not even sure what the full scope of its meaning is.  (Varichon is not very helpful on this point, getting sidetracked in Holi.)  But red's ties to auspiciousness and fertility are pretty obvious, as well as being the primary color marking Indian women throughout marriage.  It's a powerful color, and as Varichon notes, it's also closely associated with battle, death, and enchantment.  In the west red is a color of stature and power, red power ties and red carpets.  And although the actual science of  pigment would never support me, I do believe red is the basis of, the fertile ground, from which all other colors and possibilities develop.  Here's to the power, and possibility, of red.  मुबारक हो!  मैं खुश हूँ कि तुम्हारा जीवन बहुत​  सुंदर है और काफ़ी ख़ूबसूरत होगा