Thursday, May 21, 2020

Why are so many of our Gods and a certain celebrated beauty blue?

Draupadi: The Dusky Beauty
It has always bothered me that Rama, Krishna, and Draupadi are depicted as blue - skinned in countless paintings, illustrations, and other works of art. The mythological lore clearly states that Rama was dark even before he went into exile under an unforgiving sun and became deeply tanned. Ditto for Krishna who was always the dark lord, not like Voldemort with his preoccupation with the dark magic arts but on account of his complexion which has been likened to dark storm clouds and the night sky. Draupadi was a black beauty and the poets compare her skin to the rare blue lotus. Another name for the common wife of the Pandavas was Krishnaa, because of her dark and dusky complexion which was every bit as attractive and irresistible as Krishna's. So why then do we insist on using blue paint for their skin when black is readily available?

Of course, there will be folks who suggest that the 'blue' indicates a spiritual aura or the transcendental nature of their divine essence that magnified the allure of the likes of Rama, Krishna and Shiva. I am convinced that there is a more prosaic explanation. Could it be the annoying Indian obsession with fairness and a stubborn inability to acknowledge that black is beautiful? After all, it is this line of dubious thinking that has birthed the fairness cream industry which does a brisk business amounting to thousands of crores, by convincing folks who ought to know better with relentless advertising insisting that an unnatural alabaster - hued countenance is the only guarantor of finding success, fame, happiness and a suitable life partner or even the job of one's choice.

So many little girls and boys grow up thinking they are unattractive because those surrounding them force them to endure cruel barbs directed at their dusky skin tone and keep suggesting moronically that they use this fairness cream or that so that they can look like the Bollywood stars who are paid a fortune to peddle this garbage. They pay the exorbitant rates charged in parlors without demur and undergo painful procedures in the  foolish hope that their efforts will be rewarded and they will look like white people or at the very least like Michael Jackson at his creepiest. And we like to kid ourselves into thinking we are civilized, enlightened people who are not fixated on superficial things like the color of one's skin or inclined to judge a person's worth on the basis of their complexion.

This ridiculous bias that dark skin is inferior is so deep rooted that there is evidence of it everywhere. While working on the illustrations for #MahabharataWithAnuja, the original sketches of Draupadi depicted a typical babe with that improbable 'golden countenance' so beloved by artists. Had to talk them into using darker shades repeatedly till I was somewhat satisfied. However, for Krishna, that blasted blue shade was used and the recognition factor was cited. I gave in but it still irks me no end.

It is high time we celebrated the unsung glory of black and brown skin, and wear it with pride. I call upon all artists, painters and art lovers to create or share pics featuring all things dark and beautiful including Gods, Goddesses and dusky heroines minus that electrifying blue. As for the others who are unable to get over their fondness for all things milky white, I'll thank you to show some restraint and stop tsking over the complexions of the dark skinned. Maybe the next generation of kids will feel comfortable in their own skin and won't waste their time and money by slathering their mugs with dodgy products hawked by the unscrupulous who are too shallow to recognize that true beauty will never be skin deep. 

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