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Is green an Islamic colour?

Updated on: 03 December,2023 04:27 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devdutt Pattanaik |

The goddess Gauri, for example, mother of Ganesha, is draped in green as she represents the fertile aspect of nature, after the monsoon rains

Is green an Islamic colour?

Illustration/Devdutt Pattanaik

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Devdutt PattanaikSince green is the dominant colour of the Pakistan flag, many Sanatani Hindutva folks see it as the colour of Islam. They downplay this colour which is part of the Indian flag, and prefer orange instead. In doing so, they wipe out the ancient Hindu legacy of using green colour for gods and goddesses.


The goddess Gauri, for example, mother of Ganesha, is draped in green as she represents the fertile aspect of nature, after the monsoon rains. She embodies the orchards, the fields and the gardens. Her festivals are Hariyali Teej (third day of waxing moon in month of Shravan), Kajari Teej (third day of the following waning moon), and Hartalika Teej (third day of waxing moon in month of Bhadrapad), speak of women dressed in green, wearing green bangles, colouring their hands and feet with red alta dye or henna. Gauri is also worshipped on Tuesdays of Shravan as part of Mangala Gauri celebrations and on the fourth, fifth and sixth day of the Ganesh puja. Green colour of wild forest shrubs is a major part of the ritual. During Navaratri puja, as in Ganesh Puja, many edible, medicinal and fragrant plants are collected and worshipped. This was how these festivals were first celebrated. Without images. Just a celebration of vegetation and the greenery that emerges following the monsoon.


In Tanjore paintings, Mysore paintings, Odisha paintings, Ram is always shown as green colour, so is Hanuman. The reason for this southern tradition is because in Natya Shastra, green is the colour of the love-god, Kama. Green is the colour of romance (shringar), bursting forth from the dry earth when touched with rain. Ram is considered the most handsome god and therefore green colour. That is why the face of the hero in Kathakali dance is painted green. In Jain Ramayan, Hanuman is incredibly handsome and attractive, like Kama, and this may explain why South Indian Hanuman is also painted green. 
Jainism thrived in South India for centuries.


In Natya Shastra, orange is the colour of veera rasa (heroic flavour). While Hindutva thinks this is the colour of warriors, it is actually the colour of monks. The warrior of the mind is considered greater than the warrior of the battlefield. Orange is the colour of the monk. As per Indian lore, his celibacy and restraint is the cause of drought. The earth becomes wet and green only when the celibate monk falls for the charm of an enchanting nymph. The monks wear orange, the nymph wears green. Both colours are part of the Indian flag, balancing monastic ideals with fertility rituals, masculine restraint with feminine charms. 

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Green is also the colour of emerald (panna). In astrology, emeralds are linked to the planet Mercury (Budh) and are said to draw energy of prosperity. Hence it is recommended for bankers and traders. The flags of Arab countries have the same four colours—red, green, black and white, representing four different Caliphates, which once ruled the Muslim realms and dominated the world. Colours in the Middle East have a very different meaning when compared to India. Which meaning is the true meaning? Which meaning is the correct meaning? Meanings are always cultural and contextual. But when politicians appropriate colour, then even colours get discriminated against. 

The author writes and lectures on the relevance of mythology in modern times. Reach him at devdutt.pattanaik@mid-day.com

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