The Rainbow -Rainbow colours, the Christian, Islamic and Hindu belief, 5 ways rainbow form

The Rainbow -Rainbow colours, the Christian, Islamic and Hindu belief, 5 ways rainbow form

The word “Rainbow” is derived from two translated words rain, and bow.  This means that literally speaking, it is a bow that is seen only on the appearance of rain. A rainbow is a multi-coloured bow that appears in the sky when light passes through water.

There are mechanisms of formation, and beliefs surrounding the rainbow, some of which will be discussed in the course of this article.

What are the colours of the rainbow?

The rainbow is made up of seven colours, from the highest to the lowest they are:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet

Beliefs about the rainbow?

Although religions of the world do not have particular beliefs about the origin and appearance of the rainbow, a few religions have some beliefs about this

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The Christian belief

The belief of Christians concerning the rainbow is recorded in Genesis chapter 9:12-16 of the bible.

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make
between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth” (KJV)

The Christians believe that once upon a time, there used to be an abundance of evil in the world; but there was a man named Noah who was righteous before God.

God instructed Noah to build an ark for himself and his family, and for two living creatures of every kind, in order for them to live while He destroyed the earth and the evil in it.

God sent rain for forty days upon the earth after shutting the door of the ark, and this rain wiped out every living thing from the surface of the earth.

After the forty days were past, the Lord made a covenant with Noah, his family, and his generation to never destroy the earth with water again; this covenant was sealed with God’s bow – the rainbow.
The appearance of the rainbow is believed to remind God of his covenant with man to never destroy the earth again.

The Islamic belief

The belief of the Muslims as pertains to the rainbow is similar to that of the Christians. Although there are no records of the rainbow in the Quran, two hadiths have something to say about it, one record is as said by Ibn Abbas:

“The rainbow is security for the people of the earth that they will not be drowned. The Milky way is the door of the heavens and forms a furrow through it”

The Hindus belief

The Hindus view the rainbow as what the god of thunder Indra used to kill the demon serpent Asura Vritra. It is believed as recorded in the Veda (the holy book of Hindus) that Vritra held the waters captive and caused drought until he was killed by Indra.

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How are rainbows formed?

Rainbows do not just form when light meets water, if this happened whenever you light a lamp over water, you’d see a rainbow!
The following steps are involved in the formation of a rainbow

  • Light (sun rays in this case) falls on raindrops
  • Parts of the rays are reflected.
    Reflection is the change in direction of a wave at the junction between two mediums, such that the wave returns back to its origin.
    In this case, the sun rays hit the water, change direction and come back to it.
  • The remaining part of the sun rays gets refracted.
    During a refraction, light rays bend and change direction but do not go back to their original source as in reflection.
  • White light from the sun is dispersed or split into different colours.
  • This white light is now reflected behind the water droplet, refraction occurs again, and more colours are dispersed.

Why are rainbows not seen all the time?

This is simply because, for a rainbow, there must be water droplets that come from rain most of the time. Both sunlight and water drops must be present for a rainbow to form.

However, for some other unknown reasons, even in the presence of both light and water rainbows may still not be visible to the eye.

Rainbow effects can even be made for aesthetic purposes, and many other religions and tribes hold different beliefs about it. This is just how much the rainbow has become a part of our lives.

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