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The Meaning Behind Your Sari Skirt

April 07, 2020 3 min read

A yellow, blue, green, and pink skirt hang off a cloths line, held by clothespins, against a wooden wall with chipping white paint.

Every single one of our sari wrap skirts is one of a kind and handmade by our talented artisans! We've had a lot of questions about the meaning behind the colors of these skirts and the symbolism behind the shades! 

We've done a little research into the cultural meaning of colors in South Asia! 
*Please note that South Asia is a massive sub-continent with dozens of cultures that have their own interpretation of colors. 

 

Red

A deep burgundy skirt sits on beside a purple skirt on the grass


Red is one of the most culturally dominant colors in India. It symbolizes purity, fertility, prosperity, and fire. Hindu brides will wear red for their wedding gowns and the color is also often associated with Durga, a much beloved goddess. Also known as Adi Parashakti, she is the goddess of war who combats evil demons who threaten peace and prosperity. There are some southern areas of India where red is seen as the color of violence and rebellion 

Our favorite version of red is 'Blood Of My Enemies Red'- I think Durga would like it, too. 

Orange

Three women, doing yoga on mats, in a line. The woman in front is wearing an orange skirt, the woman behind her is wearing a blue skirt, and the woman behind her is wearing a pink skirt.

Orange, another dominant color in India, is often viewed as an expression of faith. Often worn by monks in different areas of South Asia, orange is synonymous with all that is sacred, courageous, and selfless. It's also one of the main colors of India's tri-color flag! 

 

Yellow

A beautiful model wearing the same outfit (black leggings, a golden skirt, a black shirt, a black hat, and a denim jacket) posing 3 times against the same white wall.
This bright and positive color often represents spring, mental development, and learning! It's also seen as a symbol of peace and meditation; often seen being worn by the Gods Vishnu, Krishna, and Ganesha. 
Yellow is sometimes worn by women when they're in the search of a romantic partner! It's also associated with the third caste, the Vaisyas (merchants). 


Green

A closeup picture of a bright green skirt, that is decorated with a paisley pattern.

As the third color of India's tri-color flag, shades of green in India can symbolize life, peace, and happiness! It can also symbolize nature, new beginnings, and a healthy harvest. Green is also a signature color of Islam, which is a significant religious presence in India.  

Blue

A person sitting in the lotus position, wearing a bright blue and teal sari skirt.

A customer favorite, blue is one of our most highly requested colors. Blue has symbolized bravery, determination, a stable mind and a depth of charitable character. It is also associated with Lord Krishna, one of the main Hindu Gods. 

*In India there's a city, Jodhpur, which has been coined The Blue City and it is gorgeous! 

Purple

A floral purple skirt and a floral green skirt laying on the grass under the sun.

Purple is another one of our most highly requested colors for our skirts and it's easy to see why! In India, purple is often a calming and comforting color associated with reincarnation.

Pink

Two people (the picture only shows their legs) in warrior pose, with one leg forward. Both people are wearing sari skirts, one person is wearing a blue skirt and the person in front of them is wearing a bright pink skirt.

Pink is one of those colors that I've noticed people either love or totally detest. In India, like many other places in the world, views pink as a feminine color, associating the hue with nurturing and caring.

Brown

A model wearing sunglasses is sporting a denium jacket and a geometric patterned brown skirt. The skirt is mostly brown with red squares, blue leaf patterns, and white circles.

Deep and earthy, brown is perceived in India as a color of mourning (much like white!). It is viewed as the manifestation of despair and sadness.

 

Gold

A model with long hair is facing away from the camera, staring at a large tree. They are wearing a long sleeved denim jacket and a golden skirt. One of their hands is showing the inside of the skirt, which is brown with an orange poka dot pattern.

Gold is seen by many Hindus, a large population of India, as a color of purity, light, and religious abstinence. In many pieces of artwork holy people and deities are often depicted either wearing gold or surrounded in golden light. 

 

White

This picture shows a model from their neck down. They're wearing an off-white trench coat, a blue top, and a white sari skirt. The model is standing by a set of outdoor stairs, leaning against the metal handrail.

This color shocked me the most! White, in India, is the color of widows and funeral attendees. When a woman's partner dies, they often wear white to symbolize that they are abstaining from all pleasures of life in their grief. White is used for the sacred rite of funerals to symbolize the mourning, peace, and purity. 

It makes me wonder what our western white weddings gowns look like to our artisans 

Black

A model with long, brown hair is wearing dark sunglasses, a black top, and a gray skirt is standing on the grass in front of a large shrub. She is opening up one side of the skirt to show the reversible other side. The other side of the skirt is white and silver.

I saved the big guns for last. 

Black is, other than jewel tones, our most highly requested color. It is also the most rare sari color. We can have a shipment of 300 skirts and only find four or five skirts that even have any black in them at all. 

It's probably because, in India, black symbolizes negativity, evil, anger, absense of energy, and death. Oddly enough, black also can symbolize desirability and protection against evil. Sometimes infants are blessed with a small black dot on their chin or behind their ear to ward off evil.  

In Conclusion... 

Each of our sari wrap skirts, no matter what you interpret the color as, is made with love by our talented artisans. Researching color interpretations of India has made me more interested in the choices the artisans make while they combine the pieces of recycled saris to make these skirts that we love so much!

I hope that this makes you love your skirts just a little more! 

 -Kate 

Information: 
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/holi-festival-colors-meaning-180958119/

https://www.veem.com/library/colors-wear-avoid-meeting-business-partners-india/

https://www.sensationalcolor.com/symbolic-colors-india/