The Art of Henna
By Anna Solcher
The intricate patterns curl up the arm in an array of designs. It stains the skin a dark reddish brown color, but also does more than that. Henna is a form of beauty and confidence.
“Henna is graffiti for the Middle Eastern people; it’s a way of art and expression,” sophomore Anjali Dhanani said.
Henna, also known as mehndi, is a type of paste made from crushing the leaves of a henna tree. Dating back over 5,000 years, it originated in the Middle East. First used as a cooling method, it became a form of art after people saw the wonderful stains it left.
Within India’s culture, henna is prominent.
“Tattoo artists line the streets of India. A lot of people do it. There are always lines,” junior Sandhiya Ravichandran said.
Henna is used on special occasions such as Eid and Diwali and is not exclusive to certain religions. Henna placed on palms and hands shows that the person is receptive of blessings and gifts, while henna on the feet shows that their body and mind is connected to the earth.
Furthermore, henna is a common ritual in Indian weddings. Women dye their arms and feet to be beautiful and have good luck.
“It’s like jewelry. You wear it to look beautiful,” Dhanani said.
Before the wedding, the women have a mehndi night, which is when an artist comes and paints a design for all the women in the wedding. The bride receives the most designs, and the best of them, while the bridesmaids receive more simple designs.
“It’s a ceremonial art, an indication of coming of age,” Ravichandran said. “It signifies that you are growing into a woman.”
Each design has an important meaning.
“The peacock means independence, flowers mean happiness and joy, and the sun means light and good fortune,” freshman Kanwal Bhimani said.
Some people use henna as a form of enjoyment simply because they want to.
“Last year I got it done for a wedding,” freshman Kalindi Desai said. “I wore it to school to flaunt it to everyone. People would ask me questions about it and I felt super cool.”
Henna can be applied by the wearer or another person. Michaels and the gas station Zip and Chill on Northgate both sell henna kits.
Henna is a form of beauty and artistic expression. Whether it is to express coming of age or simply for apperance, henna is an exquisite form of art that should be appreciated by those who use it. ●