Tag Archives: hindi

Hindi Proverb: Zameen aasmaan ka farak hai

Text: ज़मीन आसमान का फर्क है

Romanization: Zameen aasmaan ka farak hai

Transliteration: zameen → land / aasmaan → the sky / ka →  of / farak → difference / hai → is

Transcription: It’s like the difference between the land and the sky

Translation: There is a world of difference

Context: My informant – a 20-year old international student from Kolkata, India – explained to me that this is a common Hindi phrase spoken in India. When translating for me, he said that it means “it’s like the difference between the ground and sky” and it would be used when you are comparing two things that are extremely different. He couldn’t remember where he heard it for the first time, but he said it is a very common proverb used in day-to-day colloquial conversations where he is from. While he has heard it from his elders, he says that it is predominantly used among friends and in informal settings.

Analysis: While the literal translation of this phrase might be “there is a world of difference,” my informant interpreted it to be “it’s like the difference between the ground and sky,” leading me to believe there ought to be cultural factors that play into his interpretation. The proverb comes from India, a country in which the dominant religion is Hinduism. In the chapter “Riddles and Proverbs” by F. A. de Caro in Elliot Oring’s Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction, Caro writes that “the four Hindu castes are said to have sprung from the body parts of the creator god and in social status they also descend from head to foot” (191). He proceeds to emphasize the importance of the head, as the multiple heads on a single body are emblematic of the divine power of the Gods (Head: Symbolism and Ritual Use). Considering this, I believe that there is a connection to be made between my informant’s phrase and the Hindu religion that is a major part of the society from which the phrase originated. As the head is closer to the sky – a representation of divine authority in Hinduism (Symbolism of Sky in Hinduism) – and the feet are on the ground – a realm without divine authority – the two spaces are vastly different from each other and cannot be conflated. So, when someone attempts to compare two drastically different things in conversation, responding with “zameen aasmaan ka farak hai” is to not only showcase the dissimilarity between them, but to also emphasize that one is potentially of greater importance than the other, pulling on the Hindu belief of the sky’s superiority to the ground.


De Caro, F. A.. “Riddles and Proverbs.” In Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction, edited by Elliot Oring, 175-197. Utah State University Press, 1986.

Meslin, Michel. “Head: Symbolism and Ritual Use,” Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/head-symbolism-and-ritual-use. 

V, Jayaram. “Symbolism of Sky in Hinduism,” Hinduwebsite.com, https://www.hinduwebsite.com/symbolism/symbols/sky.asp. 

Hindi Joke: Randi rona mat kar

Text: रंडी रोना मत कर

Romanization: Randi rona mat kar

Transliteration: randi → whore / rona mat kar → don’t cry

Transcription: Don’t cry, whore

Translation: Don’t cry, whore

Context: My informant – a 20-year-old international student from Kolkata, India – explained to me that this is a common Hindi phrase spoken in India. When translating it for me, he said that it means “a prostitute crying” and it is an inappropriate jab that he and his friends use towards each other. He has heard it most in North India and has described it as slang in Delhi and the Punjab region used in his age group. The jab is used when someone is perceived to be whining about something and the people around the whiner are fed up with it, so they call that person a whore and tell them not to cry. In recent years, he has also heard the phrase in the content of social media influencers, making it more widespread in his country.

Analysis: While prostitution is permitted in India, there is a large portion of the population that sees it as unethical and a violation of cultural values (Prostitution: Legality and Morality in India). In Hinduism, the dominant religion in India, marriage is believed to be a union made in Heaven, and when that marriage is completed on Earth, the marriage bond is believed to persist through seven lifetimes (Hindu Wedding Ceremony). Considering this, there are many who believe that prostitution is an insult to the sanctity of marriage, thus rendering the subject as taboo. In the phrase “randi rona mat kar,” you are explicitly calling someone a prostitute or a whore, pulling on language that is bound to reap discomfort given the perception of the profession in the culture. In the chapter “Jokes that Follow MassMediated Disasters in a Global Electronic Age” by Christie Davies, the author writes that “disaster jokes, like jokes about sex or race or, in some societies, religion or politics, are a way of playing with the forbidden for the sake of amusement” (32). Pulling on this analysis and the perception of prostitution in India, the utilization of “randi rona mat kar” is a way for young people to play with the sacredness of cultural values in an attempt to subvert or challenge traditional norms and beliefs. It serves as a medium for cultural defiance and pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in their society. Additionally, my informant was adamant about the phrase only being used in his age group, and he also mentioned it becoming more widespread due to the Internet. Davies also writes that the Internet “stimulates the invention of disaster jokes and of death-of-a-celebrity jokes by providing templates for, encouraging emulation among, and granting legitimacy to disaster joke-tellers” (33). With this, I believe that the proliferation of “randi rona mat kar” among younger generations is a product of the Internet’s ability to disseminate information at a faster rate, and with that comes a larger amount of young people playing with a taboo topic that is bound to reestablish cultural norms.


Davies, Christie. “Jokes that Follow MassMediated Disasters in a Global Electronic Age.” In Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and Popular Culture, edited by Peter Narvaez, 15-34. Utah State University Press, 2003.

Harsh, Garima. “Prostitution: Legality and Morality in India,” The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/readersblog/welfaremeasuresunderthefactoriesactacriticalappraisal/prostitution-legality-and-morality-in-india-55396/. 

“Hindu Wedding Ceremony,” Sikh and Dread Photography, https://www.sikhanddread.com/hindu-weddings#:~:text=In%20Hinduism%2C%20it%20is%20believed,life%20%E2%80%93%20the%20’Grihasthashram’. 



A, 19, is an Indian student at USC. He has lived in India for 12 years of his life. Both his mom’s and his dad’s sides of the family practice Hinduism. He then explained the traditions, rituals, and celebrations that are practiced in Pujas for certain Gods during their respective festivals.


Most Hindu households reserve a room or space in a room for a ritual that can be practiced daily or for special occasions. A puja involves placing idols or photos of gods that a Hindu family may specifically worship. These idols or pictures are decorated with garlands of flowers, and colored powders of red and yellow are dabbed onto the heads of these gods. A sweet dish is traditionally made that is emblematic of the festival or that the god enjoys. A lamp or ‘dia’ is placed on a special silver dish along with some rice and colored powders. This plate is then rotated near the idol, with the fire signifying our communication with God, while songs are sung in either regional languages or Sanskrit, and a small bell is rung. In the end, we pray to these gods, place our hands near the lamp for a second, and then place the warmth on our faces. We take a piece of the sweet dish with our right hand, as is customary, as the left hand is seen as dirty.


Puja, a ceremonial worshiping ritual, is usually performed by offering fruit or flowers to a Hindu deity that is represented by an idol or image. This ritual is practiced to reinforce a connection with a God and show appreciation for said deity. The word Puja derives from the Dravidian word for flower Pu, explaining the use of floral garlands in said celebration. In this celebration, flowers are meant to procure health, wealth, and prosperity. Pujas can be held throughout the year but are more prevalent during March and October/November; this is because of the cyclical calendar that is symbolic of the stages of life. The seasons of Spring and Fall (March and October/November) are very representative of the transitions between life and death. Many other cultures around the world celebrate similar dates, like easter and All Souls Day. Overall, puja is a ritual of offering to a God in Hindu mythology.

बंदर क्या जाने अदरक का स्वाद (How can a monkey appreciate the taste of ginger?)


My informant, AS, is a 19-year-old Indian male who grew up in Mumbai, though he has lived in Southern California for the past three years. He now attends UCI. He is fluent in both English and Hindi. This piece was collected during a facetime call, when I asked him to share a typical Hindi proverb with me.


Main Text:

Proverb: बंदर क्या जाने अदरक का स्वाद 

Phonetic script: bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad

Transliteration: Monkey what knows ginger(‘s) taste

Translation: How can a monkey appreciate the taste of ginger?


Informant analysis:

“It’s basically used when someone doesn’t appreciate something of quality. For example, if I don’t like the taste of something like caviar, you’d use this proverb.”



This proverb would appear to show that in Indian culture there is a healthy respect for the finer things in life, and a negative attitude towards those who don’t appreciate quality goods or work. It’s interesting because I can’t think of a direct English equivalent, beyond possibly “enjoy the finer things in life.” This might point to very different cultural values between Hindi-speakers and English-speakers

Ramayana – Floating Stone Bridge

Ramayana is a story how all the gods meet each other and help each other out, you know fight evil. And it is related to one of our festivals. There is the story of Ram. Ram is one of our gods, and basically he was the king of one our capitals called [inaudible]. He was living his happy life and then before he got married his wife was kidnapped by a monster in Sri Lanka called Ravan. What happened was that the monster wanted to show off his powers, and the story goes Lord Ram contacted different gods; he went to the Himalayas; he got the support of monk and built an army. But, you know, Sri Lanka is island, and they had very large land army. So what they did was eventually, they did some prayers and contacted the higher lords or something and did a deal with them. The deal was that, if they write Shri Ram (his name) in on the stones they would float. So when they write that on the stones, and they start to float. So all of his army brought really big stones from all over India wrote his name, and the stones started floating in the sea. And that’s how they created a bridge from India to Sri Lanka. The army crossed the bridge to ultimately kill the monster called Ravan and get back his wife.

Context: If you look the maps you can see the bridge he had build, although it is eroded cause this was thousands of years ago. There is a city called Rameswaram, which is the southernmost city in India, and you can see the bridge is really going Sri Lanka. There’s like temples with And the stones really say Shri Ram. I’ve seen it, but it could be a big scam. The interesting aspect is that this thing exists, right? So what I was thinking is that someone saw the bridge with the floating stones, and on the basis of that created the story so that it seems real, but I don’t know.

Thoughts: I found this story, and landmark, very interesting. There seems much debate online as to the reasons why these stones float. Some suggest it porous pumice stone so it the air makes it lighter than water, while others say pumice would sink after some amount of time in the water. Either way it is fascinating to see the images of the bridge from space, and is a true wonder.