Having gone through the rain gods and the myths associated with them, it’s now time for the Rainbows, the beautiful seven-hued arch that is seen in the sky sometimes. It is one beautiful natural phenomenon that is a pleasing sight for all. When science had not explained this occurrence, our forefathers had tried to answer this colourful arch in their own sweet way.
In majority of the mythologies, a rainbow was an occurrence after the massive destructive flood that destroyed all living things on earth. This flood was a punishment lashed out by the gods due to the ill ways of mankind. Post the flood, new life had sprung all around and the gods have not punished mankind ever since.
According to the Biblical mythology a rainbow is a sign of the Covenant (promise) made by God to Noah after the massive deluge that had destroyed every living thing on earth, that there would be no such deluge again
|Noah and the Arc of Covenant|
Ø Seven Noahide laws that emerged out of this covenant came to be symbolically represented by the seven colours of the rainbow.
Ø The Noahide laws are considered basic principles of living righteously in a civilised society and a path to achieving salvation.
According to the Sumerian mythology, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the rainbow is “jeweled necklace of Mother Goddess Ishtar” that she lifts on the sky, never to forget the destructive flood that destroyed her children
According to the Australian Aboriginal myth, after the floods, the rainbow was used by the Supreme Being to ‘tie’ the rain-clouds and thus to hold back the rains.
However, not all cultures relate the rainbow with the destructive floods.
As per the Greek mythology, the rainbow was considered to be a path made by Iris, the messenger, between Earth and Heaven. The Navajo of the Red Indians too believed that the rainbow was a bridge that covered the distance between the earth and the heavens. Some called it the gateway to heavens and when it showed up in the sky, it meant that the gods had opened the gates of heaven for some souls. The colours of the rainbow depicted the magnificence of the heavens.
As per the Hindu mythology, rainbow or the Indradhanush is the bow of Lord Indra, the god of lightning, thunder and rains.
As per the Chinese mythology, the rainbow was a slit in the sky sealed by the Goddess Nuwa using stones of five different colours.
The Buddhists associated the seven colours of the rainbow with the seven regions of the earth. The rainbow is considered to be the next state to achieve before attaining Nirvana and the region where there was nothing individual. All related to ‘I’ and ‘me’ is eliminated in this region.
The Nordic believed that the rainbow was a bowl which god had used during his creation of the world. The Incas believed it to be a gift from their Sun god while the Arabians considered it to be a tapestry woven by the wind.
If you thought that all cultures associated good things with the rainbow, then wait till you read this.
There have been cultures that associated negativity with the rainbow. During certain period of the Japanese culture, a rainbow was seen as a bad omen, as it resembled a snake which was a symbol of evil. The people from Honduras and Nicaragua would consider the rainbow to be an act of the Devil himself and would hide inside their homes till it passed away. They would not even look at it, fearing that watching it would earn them some sort of a curse.
However, there aren’t too many references of negativity associated with the rainbow. Majority have seen this natural phenomenon as a beautiful and colourful aspect of nature. The mythological references of a rainbow too have something good to associate with as we have seen above.
So next time you see a rainbow, see it differently – put on your mythological cap and enjoy the beauty of a rainbow afresh!