katmere.jpg If you’re watching the TV news and see a country that looks surprising pink – there is a reason.  Almost the entire Thai population is wearing pink shirts in tribute to their 79-year-old king, who checked out of hospital this week in a wheelchair, sporting in a blazer and a pink dress shirt. 

For about two years, Thais have shown their respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej by wearing yellow—the colour that in Buddhist tradition symbolises Monday, the day of the week the monarch was born. Many Thais have donned yellow shirts every Monday since 2006, the year of Bhumibol’s 60th anniversary on the throne.

But it seems pink is about to become the new yellow in Thailand, and demand for pink T-shirts is snowballing because astrologers have determined pink to be an auspicious colour for the king’s 80th year.  A royal emblem, using pink among other colours, was specially designed for his birthday and pink T-shirts went on sale earlier this year, just after the emblem was designed.  The Thai Commerce ministry is preparing to produce 30,000 pink shirts in coming weeks to meet rising demand.  

But some are warning that with some many people wearing the colour pink it could have repercussions. One fortune teller said Thailand, due to hold a general election in December to return the country to civilian rule after the latest army coup last year, could become chaotic if everybody started wearing pink on the same day.  “We will be under the influence of Mars from next week to February, which will bring conflicts to the country,” said the fortune teller. “If many people wear pink, I am afraid that will strengthen Mars’ influence.” Mars, in Thai astrology, is associated with conflict and violence and it is believed that if lots of people wear pink it would strengthen those negative characteristics.  

Pink shirt photograph by Katmere, used under a creative commons attribution licence.