In Thailand to venture out on a Monday wearing flaming red is just asking for trouble. You are tempting fate and likely to have a bad day. But, wear the same red outfit on a Sunday and you’ll be fine. Your Monday outfit ought to be yellow or at the very least cream coloured.
This curious and fascinating practise of associating colour with particular days of the week stems from astrological rules rooted in Hindu mythology. The colour assigned to each day is the same as that of the god who protects that day. For instance, the god Surya, which means Sun in Sanskrit, is red and protects your Sunday – don’t wear blue! Interestingly, Surya is often depicted in a chariot, pulled by seven horses, which represent the colours of the rainbow.
Sunday’s god, Surya, in his chariot.
Each day also has an unlucky colour(s) associated with it, red being unlucky on Monday, yellow and white on Tuesday, pink on a Wednesday and so on.
Navagraha in Sanskrit means the ‘nine planets’, the nine celestial bodies, and also the nine celestial deities. Each deity is associated with a particular planetary (or stellar in the case of Surya) body. Chandra is the Moon, his colour is yellow (or cream) and he protects Monday. Monday’s unlucky colour, as mentioned above, is red.
Mars (the Red Planet) is associated with Tuesday and protected by Mangala, but oddly enough his colour is pink, even though one of his alternative names, Lohit, means red. He is, as in Roman mythology, the god of war and in iconographic images he is seen painted red, with four arms and carrying a trident. Avoid yellow and white on Tuesdays.
Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimon Mangala , Bangkok
Wednesday has two deities, Budha (not to be confused with the Buddha) and Rahu, and its planet is Mercury. Budha protects the day with the colour green (unlucky colour pink) and Rahu the night with grey (unlucky colours orange and red). In images Budha is often depicted riding a chariot made of air and fire, sometimes a winged lion, carrying a shield, a club and a scimitar. He is associated with an agile mind and good memory. Rahu is a shadow entity who causes eclipses and represents the moon’s ascent in its orbit around the Earth. The time of day with which Rahu is associated is considered inauspicious.
The god Rahu, trying his best not to look inauspicious.
Thursday is Bṛhaspati’s day, representing the planet Jupiter, and the protective colours are brown and orange, with purple cast as the unlucky hue. Bṛhaspati is the god of eloquence, so it might be prudent to schedule your motivational speech, power-point presentation or marriage proposal on a Thursday.
Light blue is the favoured colour of Fridays, dark blue and black being the unfavourable tints. This day is governed by Venus and the god Shukra, which in Sanskrit means ‘bright’ or ‘clear’. In Ayurvedic medicine Shukra is also the name of the seventh dhatu (tissue layer) that is connected to sexual energy, as you might expect from the association with Venus.
Purple and black are the positive colours of Saturday and it is ruled by Saturn and protected by Shani, whose iconographic image is that of a handsome man riding a crow, usually armed with a sword and bow. Shani is one of Shiva’s avatars and is the god of justice, but a deity easily roused to anger. Green is the unlucky colour of the day so keep your jealousy under control on Saturdays – or wear sunglasses.
Shani riding a pigeon masquerading as a crow.
Colours and their associations play a major role in Thai life but like most things in the kingdom are subject to a certain leeway depending on the circumstances. Yellow is often worn on Father’s Day, the king’s colour, and light blue on Mother’s Day, the queen’s colour.
The King’s birthday colour
Political activism often trumps the favoured astrological recommendations as seen in the adoption of yellow shirts for the pro-monarchy faction, while the supporters of former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, sport red.
Red, the colour of protest
It’s not hard to see why colour carries so much significance for Thais. Thailand is a land of amazing colours, golden temples with red roofs, azure seas and turquoise bays, glaring white sand and broccoli-green jungle. Thai cuisine is as colourful as it is delicious and the country’s justly famous silk fabrics feature gorgeous blends of every hue, harmoniously woven into intricate designs.
The dazzling colours of Thai silk
For those of you who have trouble deciding what to wear each morning it might help to adopt this Thai practice which will at the very least sort out the colour of the day, and who knows, maybe offer a little protection from fate’s fickle fortune.