hair's colour in Sanskrit

Sugandha Johar sjohar at
Wed May 7 22:20:33 UTC 1997

>> The real discrimination in
>> India is based on caste and not color although Varna is also a synonym
>> for color. When they refer to color they instinctively mean Varna.
>Ohh, come on! Indians can be extremely obsessed with skin color, and will
>prefer lighter skin, especially in the person they want to marry. Look at
>any matrimonial ad in any national newspaper. You will leave with the
>impression that all Indian girls are fair, or have a "wheatish"
>complexion, and that all Indian boys are tall, dark and handsome. Of
>course, the girls are all beautiful and "homely" at the same time! 
>We may not have many words for distinguishing among various tints and
>shades of skin color, but we perceive such differences nonetheless. Given
>a population, the judgments are always relative, but the attitudes towards
>skin color do exist. I postulate that Indian languages do not have many
>words for different kinds of pigmentation, only because we like to
>maintain the convenient fiction that we are all light-skinned, and that
>if dark skin occurs, it is an aberration rather than the rule! Of course,
>too light a skin color can be a minus, especially if accompanied by light
>eyes and hair - in Bombay, it is standard procedure to tease one's
>konkaNastha brAhmaNa classmates with an allegation of some unknown
>European (particularly Portuguese) ancestry.

Really - i hav never come across that one - and I should know. i am from
Bambay, and a konkaNastha brAhmaNa too !!!!

>The instinctive Indian attitudes towards skin color are seen very
>readily among Indians settled abroad, presumably an educated and
>enlightened set. Don't tell me you haven't heard Indians in the US
>referring to a black man as "kallU" and Hispanics as "makku" (derived from
>the word 'Mexican', makku has a negative meaning in south Indian tongues).
>Of course, we Indians can be very democratic in our attitudes: the word
>"gorA" can be as derogatory as "kallU"!
>In India, any "instinctive" reference to Varna when talking of skin color
>is based upon the assumption that a dark skinned person has to be
>necessarily of a lower caste than oneself. Although one can find the
>darkest skins among brAhmaNas, even in Bihar and other northern places,
>and very light skin among some of the scheduled castes and tribes. 

Not just lower caste - but just lower. I have had to tell people off, and
even ask some to leave my home to protect my daughter from acquiring a
complex because of her skin colour which is darker than mine. 

By the way, i can thingk of atleast a few different words for describibg
skin colour shades in marathi and hindi. Obviously there shuld be many more
in otehr Indian languages. 


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