I just love rainbows!
Whenever I see one I am excited, happy and fascinated.
I am sure you are to.
We just have to love them for their beauty, their sudden arrival and slow fading.
There is something in us that reacts to rainbows. And it was always like that, in all times, in most cultures and most religions.
Examples of Rainbows in different cultures and religions
- The Greek Goddess Iris is the personification of the rainbow and a messenger between the Gods and humans.
- In the Aborigine culture the Rainbow Serpent is the creator of the world and all beings.
- In Hinduism Indra, the God of rain, thunderstorms and war, uses the rainbow to shoot arrows of lightning.
- For Buddhists, the rainbow is the highest state achievable before attaining Nirvana.
- For Jews and Christians the rainbow is the sign of the covenant God did with Noah.
- In general is the rainbow a symbol of peace (together with a dove).
- In Ireland, a common legend asserts that a “pot of gold” is to be found at the end of a rainbow, for the person lucky enough to find it. This treasure is, however, guarded by a Leprechaun.
- Rainbows are common within the culture of Native Americans. The Cherokee for example believe the rainbow is surrounding the sun while in Navajo tradition the rainbow is the path of the holy spirits.
- In the ancient beliefs of Japan, rainbows were the bridges that human ancestors took to descend to come to earth.
With all its beauty and mystic the rainbow forces some questions on us.
How does a rainbow appear in the sky?
Why is it a bow? Or is it even a bow?
And can we reach the end of a rainbow?
Rainbows are not only beautiful, but also rare. To see a rainbow we need a rainy day and a sunny day at the same time. That way the sun can shine from one part of the sky, and the rain from another one.
Rainbows are a product of sunlight passing through small droplets of water. The sunlight takes a complicated path through each water droplet. It comes in the drop on one side and leaves on a different location with a different angle. Further, this angle is different for red light, blue light and the other rainbow colors passing through the water drop. That’s why out of the white light of the sun suddenly all the rainbow colors reach down to us. In other words, the water drops act like little prisms.
Now! To see a rainbow at all, the sun needs to be BEHIND us and the raindrops IN FRONT of us. If we were up above the rain, we could see that the rainbow is actually a full circle, but on the ground we see the bow, the semicircle of the rainbow, that is visible above the horizon.
We lose the rainbow once we move; and once the sun is not behind us and the raindrops are not in front of us. And that’s why we can’t reach the end of the rainbow.
Rainbows in Songs
Songs are full of rainbows. In songs people ‘chase a rainbow (The seekers), find one in front of the door’ (Bob Sinclar), find a pretty rainbow (Roy Orbison), know there is a rainbow (Mariah Carey), sing a rainbow or go to the rainbow’s end (Fleetwood Mac). They sing about a rainbow country (Bob Marley) and ask “Make me a rainbow (Ella Fitzgerald).
In the love song I have heard in a concert last week by ‘The Celtic Tenors’ – while I had the idea of this post – two lovers asked romantically ‘Who puts the rainbow in the sky?’ while Mahalia Jackson tells us singing ‘God put a rainbow in the sky’, and Dorothy dreams in the Wizard of Oz about a world ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’.
Over to you
Even I could explain how the rainbow appears in the sky and reaches to you from there, I am still very emotional when seeing one. They touch my heart!
What about you? How is your relationship with rainbows? How do you feel when you see one?
Note: Rainbow picture courtesy: lovableimages.blogspot.com