white as unblemish

Lukas Werth lukas.werth at RZ.HU-BERLIN.DE
Thu Dec 7 21:59:16 UTC 2000

At 23:03 06.12.00 -0500, you wrote:
>Dr, Kochhar wrote: <White is not so much colour of mourning as of unblemish.>

Being new to this list, I would like to add my view here. White in India,
as far as I know, is neither one of the above.

First, for all I know widows wear white not so much because they mourn, but
because their status is inauspicious. This is why they also should not do
up their hair, and wear no jewellery. Widows are kept away from auspicious
opportunities: they should, for instance, not come near to a bride.

Second, colour symbolisms in India are multiplex, and not reducible to
simple principles. Krishna is black, but so is Kali. White is also used in
buildings of white marble, where it has different meanings. The same goes
for the yasmin flowers which women use to decorate their hair, and for
white dresses of men (here "unblemish" may be a point).

Lukas Werth

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