I’ve always been fascinated with the traditions of culture. I want to know languages, taste foods, touch fabrics, learn dances, understand worship and the propriety of courtship.
Having reluctance toward the pain and permanence of a tattoo, I opted instead to discover the art of mehendi.
Mehendi is more than body art. Its original purpose was to bring down temperatures and cool the skin of its wearer in the heat of the country of its original bearers.
The art of mehendi in the Indian culture was practiced on a bride-to-be as a way of female bonding and advice-giving to the ways of love and marriage before the wedding. The labour-intensive and intricate detail of the design calls for time, delicacy, and a little bit of pampering.
The woman, branded in her henna, is given the privilege during her “honeymoon” period to abstain from physical labour and chores that may come with domestication—until the henna dye fades and disappears, since water has a way of speeding up this process.
It is a beautiful art and a wonderful practice that speaks more than simply “a body tattoo.” To think of it simply as a tattoo would be to dishonour the practice.
So, in my own curiosity and fascination, I took a course in practicing mehendi. When I wish to take some time for myself, I create the henna paste and in quiet meditation brand myself with the intricacies of my own artistic imagination.
Here is an example of my mehendi on my hands and arms:
It takes creativity, grace, and discipline. All worthy traits of an ancient art.
(c) Zara Alexis D. Garcia-Alvarez