The Importance of Colors

Cultural Insights – The Importance of Colors

In our Western society, we don’t pay that much attention to the color of our clothes, besides wearing black at a funeral. Thailand, however, superstitious as it often times is, has a multi-faceted culture that revolves around colors. It is deeply ingrained in their lives and the choice of clothing is only one part of it. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about superstitions, religion or the monarchy, but it includes the more mundane aspects as well as the coloring of the busses in Bangkok. 

We will give you a rundown of everything you need to know about their affection for the colorful and the important role that it can play.

Every Day of the Week Is Associated With a Color

A careful observer will notice that local people in Thailand often wear yellow clothes on a Monday. This is because every day of the week has an auspicious color associated to it and yellow is the one for Monday. The importance of wearing the appropriate color every day dwindled in face of modern times, but Monday is different. The reason for this is that both the late King Bhumibol and his successor King Vajiralongkorn were born on this day. The Royal flag is, therefore, kept in the same color as we mentioned in our previous post.

The origins of this belief come from Hindu mythology, where nine planets, referred to as Navagraha (Nava = Nine; Graha= Planet), are represented by a color and a mythical deity. Down below you can see a quick overview.

Day

Lucky Color

Unlucky Color

Planet

Hindu God

Sunday

red

blue

Sun

Surya

Monday

yellow

red

Moon

Chandra

Tuesday

pink

yellow and white

Mars

Mangala

Wednesday (day)

green

pink

Mercury

Budha

Wednesday (night)

grey

orange-red

Rahu

Thursday

orange

purple

Jupiter

Brihaspati

Friday

light blue

black and dark blue

Venus

Shukra

Saturday

purple

green

Saturn

Shani

You don’t have to adhere to this code when you visit Thailand. If you want to show your knowledge of Thai culture, then you can wear yellow on Monday or light blue on Friday, which is the day the Queen was born. However, no one expects you to.

Color In Everyday Lives

In recent years there has been confusion about the color yellow because of political reasons. The People’s Alliance for Democracy, a group protesting against the current Thai government, wears yellow shirts and are also known as such. The opposition is the “red shirts” and both frequently march, mostly peacefully, through the populated and popular districts of Bangkok. The importance of yellow doesn’t stop there. Together with orange, it also plays a vital role in Theravada Buddhism. Here the colors symbolize peace, which is one of the reasons why you see all the monks clad in an orange robe. 

An animistic belief is that guardian spirits live in every object, creature, and place such as trees, stones, flowers, and homes as well. In order to appease the good as well as the bad spirits, people build miniature houses, which they decorate with colorful garlands and paper flowers. You will also observe that some trees have multi-colored scarves wrapped around them. This is a sign that they are inhabited by a special spirit.

Finally, there is something we can probably relate to a little more – the colors of busses in Bangkok. They can tell you everything about the fare, the age and condition of the bus and whether or not it has air conditioning. The orange and blue ones are the best options since both of them have air conditioning. The red buses are open-aired and are good for short trips, but the green ones are a real adventure. There is no air conditioning and the driver picks people up until there is no inch left inside or even outside. If you are with your children then you should probably avoid this bus. The fare for the orange one is 20 Baht, compared to the 3 Baht for the lowest tier. However, you are able to travel and see the landmarks in a more comfortable manner.