Earth, Fire, Water: The colors of India

Pushkar Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 7 › view all entries

  As many of you may have known, the title of my entry comes not only from the elements but also from Deepa Mehta's trilogy of movies about India.  I felt I couldn't write an entry without mentioning the colors of India as they are one of the greatest beauties of everyday life here.


Brown:  Families gather cowpatties and slap them against walls until they stick flatly to dry in the hot desert sun.  Mothers remove the dried cakes and make fires in order to cook Indian dishes without using wood.  Cows themselves are rarely killed in the Hindu areas of the country as they are religiously important creatures.  Rather, they wonder the streets eating discarded paper, cardboard, fruits, and food.  In addition to their great contribution of fuel, their milk is used in the most popular drink, chai, and a yogurt-like substance, curd, among other treats.

Green:  A tree or shrub in the northwest of India is rarely found as it is the season directly before the monsoon when water is scarce.  Laundrey is easily dry within a few hours of hanging it up, but there are disadvantages.  In Khajuraho, a small tourist town known for its temples with erotic statues, the people are becoming poorer as they are unable to suplement the income they earn in the tourist industry with income from their farms.


Red:  The powder which many Indian women put in the part of their hair is to signify that they are married.  Different colors of powder signify different things, though I have yet to discern what these things are.  Sellers pile their crimson, blue, green, yellow, and orange powders high in tin trays or baskets and sell special containers with separaters so that it's possible to keep many different colors of powder without mixing them.

Orange:  Hindu dieties in temples are painted the holy color.  Many hindu sadus also wear orange robes and earn their living through others' charity.  Unfortunately, there are some who pretend to be Sadus but charge tourists 1,000 ruppee per member of their family whom they would like to give good Karma.  Most unfortunately, there are some tourists stupid enough to pay the price.


Blue:  Brahma, a Hindu God, is said to have dropped a lotus flower onto the current site of Pushkar in order to kill demons.  Each petal of the Lotus became a lake and the largest  is the core of Pushkar.  Now the lake is surrounded by temples; there are more than 100 in the small town. Many pujas (equivalent to masses, kind of) are held each day, complete with the ringing of the temple bells and banging on drums.  It is said that, if Hindus come to Pushkar during a certain time in the Hindu calender and bathe in the lake, the impurities of their souls will be cleansed. 

kelwa says:
Thanks for sharing the details of your travels Claire. Its hear to hear about the 'lali's' (rural areas) of India. "...gather cowpatties" this sounded familiar for what used to happen at my grandma's place before RDP came with the inevitable 'electricity' and 'running tap water'.

Now its rare that you will find an area that remains 'untouched' by urbanisation. Just a thought: Is there anything like RDP (Reconstruction & Development Program) in India?
Posted on: Apr 21, 2008
mzzlizz says:
Namaste, Clara! I didn't know you were such a poet. It's nice to hear about your travels. I always look forward to getting updates. -Liz
Posted on: Apr 10, 2008
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