Open Page

Dipped in colours

Almost all the New Year e-cards I chanced upon had black backgrounds! Was it because of COVID-19?

At no cost did I want to send black cards to my friends when a brand new year was about to dawn. Resolutely, I revived my search. There had to be some cards more colourful and suggestive of the hope and happiness we associate with the New Year. My efforts paid off. I found one with a diaphanous light magenta background with lots of white lights winking at you while the glass tumblers on the table saucily beckoned you to party. It conveyed merriment, looked vibrant and gifted hope to humankind. I liked it.

Do we choose colours mechanically or does something else play itself out in our minds before we select them? My friend Vijaya loves yellow, Rohan loves blue, Meera is fond of brown, I love red. If I tried to enforce my preference on them, they would be miserable.The reason you choose certain colours and not others is they evoke specific emotions in you.

In most western cultures, black is the colour of evil, sadness, death and doom. People wear black to funerals. They consider white the colour of purity. Their brides wear white.

The Indian bride will never wear white. She will choose red if she belongs to the north. She will choose green if she belongs to Maharashtra. Indians wear white on funerals, and bright colours on festivals. Culture influences the collective choice of colours, though the preferences are emotion-driven. Research confirms that colours affect the neurons when we exercise our preferences.

A study in 2002 concluded that crimes in Glasgow dropped when the colour of some street lights was switched from yellow to blue to improve the look of the place. A second study in 2005 in the city of Nara in Japan stated that suicides decreased by 85% on railway platforms where blue lights had been installed. Noting the impact, the authorities installed blue lights on 33 train platforms with similar results.

Industries use colour preferences to woo customers because they understand the relationship between colours and human emotions. McDonald’s uses red because it is an appetising, attractive colour. Red, yellow, orange and their variants are warm colours. They are often used in homes, hotels, and restaurants to convey friendliness. Cold colours are blue, green and purple. Blue connotes stability, confidence and reliability. Many banks use blue in their logos. We associate green with nature. Yellow is a cheerful colour. On Basant Panchami Day that marks the onset of spring in the north, people wear yellow clothes and eat yellow rice and halwa.

ceogiit@gmail.com

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 2:34:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/dipped-in-colours/article33642076.ece

Next Story