By Nadia Ali. Art appeals to the eyes that see a creation on canvas expressed from the mind of an artist’s imagination. But what if we could have temporary imagery painted onto our skin? The centuries-old art of mehndi does just this. It creates a painting on the skin in intricate henna-coloured designs.
It is a tradition born in the east that originates from the crushed Henna plant grown in Africa, India, Morocco, Pakistan and the Middle East. It was initially used by people in the desert by rubbing the paste over their sun exposed skin to serve as a sun block. Then it developed to being used as an adornment to decorate the body by both the rich and the poor.
Quality and colour of mehndi
The green leaves and twigs of the plant are picked and crushed into a fine powder. This is then mixed with water or oil to create a paste which smells of an intense mint/rosemary fragrance. It is applied to the body as a temporary art form.
The paste is available for purchase as pre-packaged, small cone-like shape product ready for use known simply as “Henna”. But many people still opt to go to one of many mehndi artists found in the twin isles. Just ask any girl where they go to get their hands painted and many will tell you that they have one mehndi artist who they go to every year without fail.
One of the main reasons is because of the quality and colour of the mehndi which most professional artists make for themselves giving a deeper colour and longer staying power than the ready-to-use henna product.
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Mehndi for Divali and Eid
Besides weddings which have seen a growing trend amongst brides to use the services of a professional mehndi artist. The occasions of Divali and Eid are very popular times of the year where girls engage the service of mehndi artists to have their hand and feet painted. The popular mehndi artists often have a stream of people coming and going for the days preceding the festive occasion. Schools also celebrate Divali and Eid and although they do not hire professional artists they tend to nominate one or two girls to create mehndi designs on the hands of their fellow students.
A natural art form, some mehndi artists will develop the design as they go along according to the client’s hands and personality while others work with set patterns. Part of its appeal, besides that it is painless, is that it has a tattooed appearance which wears off in about three to four weeks.
So, as Eid has ended and Divali is coming, once again the beautiful art form will make an appearance on the hands and feet of girls in sweet T&T.
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October 2014 – Issue 12 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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