hair's colour in Sanskrit

zydenbos at zydenbos at
Sat May 10 02:02:18 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 08 May 97: indology at (fp7 at

 fe> From: Frances Pritchett <fp7 at>
 fe> Subject: Re: hair's colour in Sanskrit

 fe> On Wed, 7 May 1997, Aditya, the Hindu Skeptic wrote:

> Yes, it is  both ironic and paradoxical. 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.

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

A young Bengali woman in Germany informed me that in the Bengali language there
are four words (which I do not recall now; can any Bengalis help?) for shades
of skin colouring. She belonged to the darkest category, and so her fair
parents in Calcutta decided not to save money for a dowry but to send her to
college instead, since she would have to support herself later on in life. (She
later married a German and showed off her pale-faced husband to her Calcutta
friends who were supposedly so fair and beautiful!)

- Robert Zydenbos

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