As a little girl I used to love having henna patterns on my hand. In fact before all these designs suddenly came into fashion I remember my Mum used to make a thick paste of the henna at home, put a blob of it in the middle of my little palms and tell me to close my hand into a fist. I was to let that stay like that for as long as possible. In fact, leaving it overnight meant a messy bed so Mum would take old socks and put them over my clenched fists. And when I’d wake up in the morning I would eagerly throw off the socks with the dried, flaked off bits of henna and gasp in wonder and delight that my hands were orange. Over the day they would slowly turn brown and then a darker brown and so dark until it couldn’t get any more brown then it would slowly start fading off.
Eventually it became fashionable to get matchsticks and toothpicks and fashion some kind of a pattern on one’s palms. The lines at wedding used to be long. There would be one woman brought from somewhere or the other and she’d have mehndi (another name for henna) in old jam jars, armed with toothpicks and matchsticks and would settle with cushions to support her back and the hand of the person wanting the design on her palms, and lots of tissue paper to wipe of the mess.
It went a step further. Mehndi started being available in fancy cones that were easy to apply. It was like icing a cake except the designs were more intricate. Basically anyone can now apply mehndi, even if you don’t have the know how of those intricate designs, because once you grab hold of that cone and try your hand at it, you do tend to churn out some pretty awesome designs.
Nowdays there’s all sorts of fashionable things happening with this ancient art. You can have temporary tattoos on any part of your body and some brides also get ‘glitter mehndi’ done. It does look very beautiful and it does make one want to look at a bride’s hands, or even anyone’s hands that have been adorned, more closely. Also for some strange reason many men think the smell of henna is ultra gross. It’s NOT! It’s a lovely and unique smell.
All this talk has made me want to have my hands hennaed now!