hair's colour in sanskrit

Allen Thrasher athr at
Mon May 12 14:52:41 UTC 1997

I forwarded Lars's comments about "municipality-colored hair" to a
Polish-American friend (a lot of Poles have a light version of what I call
"dirty blonde" and probably is about the same as "m.-colored"), and he
forwarded it to a Mangalorean Catholic friend of his, who sent back these
comments, which she has permitted me to post without her name:


I think they've got it wrong.  There is a marked distinction between fair 
hair and fair skin.  While the latter is prized and sought after (especially 
in a bride), the former is of no importance.  The distinctions between light 
and dark brown or reddish brown are immaterial in an Indian and not 
noticeable in a "white."   But the lighter the hair (especially in an Indian 
or even an Asian) is an albatross round their neck (no pun intended) -- it 
signifies lack of racial purity!  On the other hand if a "white" has fair 
hair (to match the fair skin) that is perfectly okay -- he is racially pure 

Keep in mind that the racial mixtures you see in the U.S. and in the 
Caribbean are absolutely unknown in India and mind boggling to an Indian. 
 Marrying within the same religion, culture, language, region, and social 
status, but outside the caste is considered "inter-marriage."  Purists would 
notice the mix of facial features in the offspring of such a marriage and 
would brand the kids "mixed-breed."   Go figure!

>>for the relevant colour + keshin (or something to that effect. A more
>>interesting question is if Indians differentiate between hair colour
>>variations in Europeans. Are we all "fair", or do Indians see the 
>>of various shades of brown, yellow, red etc.?

>It seems the obsession with skin and hair shades is only Western

That in itself is of course an interesting observation. Although I would
deny that the obsession with skin colour is only western. According to what
African acquaintances have told me, they take an interest in various shades
of black and brown. And as for India - well, read Midnight's Children and
see what Rushdie has to say on the subject. But hair colour? I think that
may very well be a Western obsession. Here in Norway, we bewail our fate if
we are so unlucky as to have "municipality-coloured hair" (a particularly
lack-lustre shade of light brown), whereas golden, blonde hair, or deep
brown or jet black are hair colours you can show off to the world.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

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