I like the colour orange. Its warm, friendly, and cheerful. Orange makes me happy.

But you probably knew I was going to say that didn’t you? Orange comes as a standard wardrobe choice for devotees of Krishna – at least the young ones – and it is a bit of a head-turner when a group of kirtaneers is moving down your local high street.

Its been over 28 years since I last wore orange robes (or ‘saffron’ as we tend to call them) but I think if a religious order was going to pick a happy colour to uplift their congregation then orange is definitely the best choice.

The word ‘orange’ started its life as the ancient Sanskrit naranga. Arabic traders brought the juicy, colourful naranga fruits to Spain in the 9th century but they called them naranja. The first record of the fruit in England is in the 14th century and we called them by the same name. Somewhere in history asking for ‘a naranj’ became ‘an aranj’ since they are linguistically identical, and aranj became spelled as orange.

My garden is ablaze with orange at the moment as bright marigolds and calendulas continue to burst out, offering themselves up for the home altar.



Filed under Journal

4 responses to “Orange

  1. Vamsi Vadana das

    Dear Kripamoya Prabhu,
    My Respects.
    I heard that the tantrics wear bright red, (blood red) the Buddists use mauve/purple/dark orange colours.
    The Bhaktas wear a variey of orange in the West according to which dylon combo they use when mixing their dye.
    Srila Prabhupada’s chosen saffron colour varies a lot in the pictures but is always a lighter shade of pale saffron.
    Not sure of the Mayavadis preferred orange?
    Your post is interesting with the right amount of humour.
    I will be thinking of you next time I offer an orange.

    • Ahhh Vamsi, I remember those saffron days with fondness.

      For readers who might be interested, Srila Prabhupada, when at the Manor, had his assistant buy Dylon 39 Tangerine to dye his cloth. It would be bright at first, then fade after a few washes. So now you know.

      Saffron robes are actually Tangerine.

  2. DavidC

    Fascinating post both about the history of “orange” (which no English word rhymes with) and also Srila Prabhupada’s cloth dying.

    I once read an article on the Internet (which sadly I can’t seem to locate now to cite) about a lady outsider who lived with some devotees for a short while and wrote a book about her experiences.

    She described the colour of the robes as “peach” (or peachy) – which immediately struck the devotees as the correct way of describing the colour, rather than the standard “saffron.”

    To hear Srila Prabhupada’s prescribed colour was “tangerine” further backs the validity of this outsider’s description as spot-on!

    • Thanks David. Yes, no English word rhymes with ‘orange.’ But if you use the Sanskrit equivalent, ‘naranga’ then you can make poetry because there’s lots of words that end with the suffix ‘anga.’ How about this for a not very good poem?

      The devotees of Krishna dress in naranga (orange)
      They sing altogether in uplifting sanga (fellowship)
      Their object of worship, the golden Gauranga
      The effect of their lives, a blessed taranga (flood)

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