Who buys the most saffron?

Who buys the most saffron?

The answer is obviously the wealthiest.

Saffron’s value increases when people use it as a perfume or to give away to friends and relatives. But you can also get rich by being a saffron addict.

A handful of Indian newspapers, including TOI, have devoted special sections to the saffron craze. But it has made its way into mainstream politics, in the form of a campaign by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi which includes a show of saffron at a BJP rally earlier this month.

In May, the party’s general secretary, Suresh Prabhu, said he had to buy a lot of saffron as a symbol of commitment. But there are not enough saffron-clad BJP leaders with a political career to speak about the importance of saffron.

And the saffron movement has a tendency to split on political lines.


Image caption An Indian family buys 40,000 saffron flowers

In his article about how saffron’s popularity is spreading in India, British commentator Jonathan Weale, who often writes on politics in India, says the saffron movement has divided on ideological grounds.

“Saffron politics is not a matter of the Hindu nationalist movement or its Hindutva politics, but of the populist left,” he says.

“So on the whole, the current wave of saffron propaganda is the product of two very different groups.”
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And his main argument is that saffron has become a fashionable colour because it has been “politicised”.

“Saffron has often been associated with secularism and, more significantly, with the radical left,” he adds.

“So even though many people say that saffron is not the colour of religion, it is in reality becoming more religious as religious values and ideologies are no longer considered compatible with modernity.”

That may well be the case, or not. In fact the popularity of saffron is far more about economics than the colour.

Image caption A woman uses a saffron coloured pad of cloth

But the idea that saffron has become more religious is not a new one. In the late 17th Century India, traders called it dhokha, from the Sanskrit for yellow or rose. It was a dye that went well with rose oil, which was used as a beauty treatment and as a lubricant.