Long, long ago when the Earth was very young, Indra the god of thunder, lightning and rain called his carpenter to him. My big hunting bow is broken, he said. I want a bigger bow. Make me the biggest bow in the world. So the carpenter set to work. When he had finished Indra called his artist, Vishvakarma to him.
Paint my bow with colours that have never before been known in the kingdom of the gods, he commanded. So Vishvakarma came down to Earth to find new colours. Then he began to paint the bow in stripes. The first stripe he painted violet like the top of the Himalayan mountains at dawn.
The second stripe he painted indigo like the dye from the indigo plant.
The third stripe he painted blue, like the neck of a peacock.
The fourth stripe he painted green, like the unripe mango.
The fifth stripe he painted yellow, like the fur of a newly born tiger.
The sixth stripe he painted orange, like the stain of the juice of the mendhi plant.
The seventh and last stripe he painted red, like the flowers of the Ashoka tree in summer.
Vishvakarma was very happy. He hung the bow to dry in the sunshine. But the sun was too hot and the wood began to crack. Vishvakarma begged Indra to send rain to wet the bow and he let the rain fall gently.
All the children looked up at the bow in the sky. Look at the rain bow, they said, with joy. Vishvakarma told Indra. Please dry your bow like this every time you use it. The best weather is when the sun is shining through a little rain. Then the colours in your bow will remain bright forever. So every time Indra dries his bow, a rainbow appears in the sky.