Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The colors of the prophet

So Gadhafi has claimed the color of the prophet as his own in a bright, optimistic shade, miles away from the standard, somber Muslim green used mainly in the west for agricultural machinery and school uniforms. His supporters only need shamrocks on their head gear to look like a pub crowd promoting St Patrick's Day.

Gadhafi green, like every other color, is there in India. When we were hunting for orchids along the country roads of Kerala, I was recording the colors of Kerala's mosques: pea green, lime green, that bright Caribbean, cabbage green, chartreuse. And that's just the start. I saw a lime green mosque with mint green trim. A bright Gadhafi green with orange accents. A deep violet, mixed with a lighter shade. And how about periwinkle blue and marigold? And why not pinstripe your minaret? In fact, some were turned into candy canes of pink and purple.

It was as though they'd let the Imams' children loose with paint cans - Let's have purple walls and a green arch! Well then, half a mile down the road we'll do a lime green mosque with a baby blue gate! And then they went on to the churches; a lavender church, a pink and white church and a Christian orphanage, all in sugar candy colors.

But when the colors fade this time they may stay faded. The money for such exuberance came from Muslim Indians working in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and the Gulf states, out of work now, refugees from the Arab revolutions.

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