Hindi Language and Names of Colors
If we talk to a physicist about color, he would probably tell us these are vibrations that are picked up by the eye and interpreted as a specific color. But for a common man, color is much more. It is a part of our daily life. In every aspect of our lives color plays an important role. Colors are used to describe dressing, weather, language, mood, prestige, emotions, and feelings.
Let us for a moment remove all color from our garden. What happens – we can’t differentiate between a red rose and a yellow rose; a pink chrysanthemum looks the same as a maroon one. How would you describe your favorite green cardigan? What about the phrase ‘A White Christmas’? Man has made so much progress, but even today the rainbow (known as indradhanush in Hindi) is something that can excite everyone.
Names of colors are an integral part of any language. As in the English language, one finds individual names for the basic colors in the Hindi Language too. Let us look at some of them: Black – Kaala, White – Safed, Red – Laal, Yellow – Peela, Green – Hara, Brown – Bhuraa, Ochre - Khakki
For other colors where man has not given an individual name the aid of other things, primarily Mother Nature, is taken. For example, to describe the green of a clear sea, we use the term sea green and for the blue of the sky we use term sky blue in English. This holds true for Hindi Language too. Some of the names are from the names of fruits, vegetables, some from nature, some even from the names of cereals.
Some of such colors are: Carrot – Gajri (The vegetable carrot is known as gajr in Hindi),
Orange – Santari (from the name of the fruit orange which is known as santara in Hindi),
Dark Green – Moongia (Moong is the name of one of the pulses (an edible seed, or the plant that produces it) in India, it is dark green in color),
Golden - Sunhera (from the metal gold which is known as sona in Hindi),
Grey – Saleti ( from the name of slate, a stone),
Turquoise – Firozi (from the name of a semi precious stone),
Pink – Gulabi (the rose flower is known as gulab in Hindi),
Saffron – Kesri (the saffron flower is known as kesar in Hindi. It is widely grown in the valley of Kashmir),
Violet- Baiguni / Jamuni (from the Hindi word for eggplant, which is Baigan in India and Jamuni from the name of Jamun, a fruit.),
Sea Green – Samundari Hara (the Hindi word for sea is samundar),
Sky Blue – Aasmani Neela (the Hindi word for sky is aasman),
Olive Green - Mehndi (Mehndi is the Hindi word for Henna. Further words like Sukhi (dry) and Geeli (wet) are prefixed, as Henna changes color when it becomes wet.)
Peacock – Mor Pankhi (the bird Peacock is known as Mor in Hindi; it is the national bird of India.
Please note that words like ‘Gehra’ and ‘Halka’ are prefixed to the colors to specify the shade. For example Light green would be ‘Halka Hara’ and Dark Blue would be ‘Gehra Neela’.
India is a land of colors. A multitude of colors can be seen in the terrain, the sky, the water, and the culture of the people. In fact, a full festival, the festival of Holi, dedicated to color, is celebrated in the month of March every year. Everyone is covered with color, irrespective of their age and status. A lot of meaning is attached to color in India. In fact even the days of the week have their preferred colors. White clothes are recommended for Monday, Orange for Tuesday, Green for Wednesday, Yellow for Thursday, Red for Friday and Black for Saturday. Red is the color of the bride and the state of being married. Married women can normally be seen with a red dot (bindi) on their forehead. White represents purity, Orange is the color of saints, Green is the color of prosperity. People in India love color. Color is used effectively to represent various moods and emotions.
* All the words in italics are Hindi words.