hair's colour in Sanskrit

sarin at sarin at
Thu May 8 12:45:23 UTC 1997

>I have noticed this kind of discrimination among members of the same
>family, so it cannot be Varna.  People have shown me their children and
>pointed to one of them and said, for all the children to hear, "See how
>dark she is, how will we ever get her married..."

Parents know that a darker skinned girl will not be treated as well by her
inlaws (unless of course, they are even darker than she is).  Discimination
on the basis of color seems, unfortunately, fairly universal (except
amongst African tribes perhaps?).  An Indian family I know visited a beach
in Maryland in the late 1950's.  The wife and kids who were fairly light
skinned were allowed on the beach, but the husband who was darker was
forbidden to enter.  They all went home.

>An interesting corollary is that in my observation South Asians,
>especially women, cannot imagine the concept of the "suntan"-- the idea
>that anyone would voluntarily *darken* his or her skin color even the
>tinsiest bit is just inconceivable...

Remember, "only mad dogs and English men"!  Even after 23 years in the US,
I still instinctively avoid basking in the sun.  Besides, I know, that even
today, if I traveled 50 miles away from the city, I would have trouble if I
"tanned" further.  Indians are definitely very sensitive to nuances in skin
color.  But here in the United States "color" is an indication of race, and
is equated with lack of intelligence and poor social status.

Amita Sarin

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