Why is the IIFA Awards carpet green? The story behind the move from traditional red

The first change of colour was introduced at the event in Sheffield, in 2007, for an important reason

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For 16 years, stars arriving at the annual International Indian Film Academy Awards have been greeted by a bright green carpet, instead of the traditional red.

First introduced at the event in Sheffield, UK, in 2007, the colour change has not only allowed the travelling Bollywood ceremony to stand out, but also deliver an important global message about climate change.

“IIFA has always put the environmental agenda at the realm of IIFA Awards,” organisers said.

“In 2007, we launched the concept 'Greening The IIFAs' and came up with the idea of bright green carpets instead of traditional red ones.

“IIFA has always helped create clever messaging on the environment that the stars and celebrities involved would convey to the audiences and fans globally. And today, with the power of celebrity following, it’s worked.”

First held in the year 2000, in London, the IIFA Awards were conceptualised by Mumbai event company Wizcraft International Entertainment to honour the best Hindi films and movie talents of the previous year.

It is held in a different country every year, usually spread across a number of days, culminating with a gala awards night, and it has been instrumental in boosting Bollywood's popularity globally.

Dubai hosted the event in 2006, and other host countries have included Bangkok, New York, Colombo, Amsterdam, Madrid, Florida, Kuala Lumpur and Macau.

Abu Dhabi plays host for the second year in a row this weekend, with the musical IIFA Rocks and the gala IIFA Awards both being held at the Etihad Arena on Friday and Saturday.

At the IIFA's first green carpet event in England, Hollywood stars Colin Firth and Sienna Miller rubbed shoulders with top Bollywood actors including Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra.

Salman Khan, who's performing at the Abu Dhabi show this weekend, was one of the performers, along with Abhishek Bachchan, who will host the show on Saturday at the Etihad Arena alongside actor Vicky Kaushal.

The history of the red carpet

The term “red carpet treatment” is believed to have been coined in the 1900s when the New York Central Railroad typically used scarlet-coloured carpets for first-class ticket holders boarding the trains. Hollywood began to adopt the colour for film premières and events in the 1920s.

It achieved global status when broadcasters of the Academy Awards in 1964 started filming the arrival of guests as they stepped out of their limousines. The red carpet became the place where stars and VIPs made their grand entrance.

Today, it is used at major events around the world, including at formal ceremonial events to mark the path of heads of states.

Most memorable IIFA moments from over the years – in pictures

Updated: May 24, 2023, 11:58 AM