The Colour of Joy

I have always considered joy to be a warm yellow.

The kind of yellow that catches the sunlight in the afternoon and glows so bright you have to look away. 

I always thought of joy simply, I think.

A yellow hue that feels both nostalgic and futuristic.


Today I saw joy in every colour under the sun. 

We were under the sun; we danced, we sang, we chanted, we immersed ourselves in the feelings of joy. 

And it was so much more than yellow. 

There were pinks, light and airy, a faint blush on the tips of cheeks.

 Deep reds, those that are reflected in fire and pomegranates. 

There were saris of green, freckled with white peal details on the edges. 

They wore deep blues, both like the expansive ocean and the infinite sky. 


And the little boy in pink, who talked my ear off and wanted to be a photographer. 

Who loved his school and walked with a limp. 

He took my camera and started snapping, getting low for the angles and rushing back to me to show the finished product. 

He took his time showing us around the Kolam rice flour art. 

He said ours was good. 

It was, if we were comparing it to the youngest children’s in the school! 


The colour of joy was red, it was blue, it was green and pink and orange. 

It was light, it was dark, it both reflected the sun and absorbed the light. 

The joy was the people, it was acceptance, it was welcoming, it was fun, it was creative. 

The hospitality was divine-like, we were treated with abundant aroha.


I am always the most impacted by people. 

And colours. 

Today I was treated with both, and the vibrancy was palpable. 


When I left the Pongal festivities, a sense of sadness swept over me.

On the bus, as we drove away, I wrote in my notes: “ I think meeting beautiful people and connecting on a beautiful level is the reason I feel sad, as now I am having to leave them.

I then wrote down all their names so I wouldn’t forget. 

I won’t share them here but will look back and feel extreme gratitude at the experience of the Pongal festivities and the people that welcomed me,

those I danced with,

who showed me the true colour of joy.


Pongal festival is a harvest festival which is celebrated over 4 days. It is celebrated by the Tamil Community, who derive from the state of Tamil Nadu, India. As it is a harvest festival, they thank those that contribute to a bountiful harvest, such as the Sun, Mother Nature, and various farm animals. We joined the Isha Yoga Foundation school on day 2 of the festivities, Surya Pongal. This second day is the day the sun god is honoured through colourful decorations and floor patterns called Kolam, which we were taught how to create using rice flour. As a key part of the festivities, they also cook a pot of Pongal. Pongal is the name of the dish that is cooked and eaten during the festival. It is a mix of boiled, sweet rice. The name derives from the word in Tamil, ‘Pongu’, which translates to ‘to boil over’.  To make Pongal, you light the fire, add the water, followed by rice milk and jaggery, and then (the most important step), you dance around the pot! Finally, as the pot begins to boil over, you shout, ‘Pongalo Pongal!’  

Aria Gardiner

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