The Gori-kaali Complex
- JWB Post
- April 6, 2015
Famous author Sagarika Ghose writes a provoking piece in today’s TOI speaking about (against) this issue.
We all need to cast out the inner darkness.
In our un-fair world, the lighter the better. Black has never been beautiful for large sections of Indian society. Many of us desis think of ourselves as honorary whites; we tend to trace our lineage to the Aryan past. But in the Ramrajya of Union minister Giriraj Singh, there seems to be no space for Krishna who historically was said to be dark skinned. Since he belongs to the party that claims to uphold Hindu heritage perhaps the Bhumihar leader should know that Draupadi, one of the most beautiful women ever born is described in some stories as the dark-skinned beauty.Draupadi was supposed to be the colour of a blue lotus, or dusky, as also in some legends was Satyavati, mother of Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata. And what about Kali, avenging goddess or Dark Mother, who in many of her depictions is as dark as she is powerful?
And aren’t depictions of Rama as blue-skinned, evocative of Shyam-rang, the colour of Krishna? Shiva is blue-skinned too and Lord Jagannath of Puri is vibrantly black. The “mixed Aryans“ were supposed to be “yellowish“, neither black nor white but “gaura like molten gold“ colour.
It seems when the iconography of Hinduism passed into the colonial period, we began to paint our deities as white as the colonial conquerors. Nina Davuluri may have won the Miss America title, but apart from Sushmita Sen how many well-tanned desi beauties win beauty pageants?
In 2012 Indians consumed 233 tonnes of skin whitening cream. So should fairness creams be banned and should celebrities stop endorsing them?
Wrong call. When there is demand there will be supply and if Indians want to be pale when in fact most of us are fifty shades of brown, that’s a personal choice.The ethical question lies in the advertising narrative that suggests you can get married and get good jobs only if you are fair-skinned. To change this mentality, we need to cast out the inner darkness.
The caste system or the varna system may imply social hierarchy on the basis of skin colour but Brahmins can be as dark as Jagannath Mishra and Dalits can be as light skinned as Sushilkumar Shinde. The dusky Freida Pinto became the “face“ of India in international cinema, not paler counterparts back home. Complexions of all hues are celebrated in epics and scriptures. When it comes to our colour bias, we need to sing Mehmood’s hit song: Ham kale hain to kya hua dilwale hain.