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DREAMS IN DESIGNTHE MAGIC OF HENNA Eid is a festival of many emotions and everyone has their own way of coming together to celebrate it, but the best way a woman can celebrate is expressing style and fashion appetite by applying henna designs that can boost their style statement. To discover more about this enigmatic creation, Society spoke with Qatar based Henna designer Ridita Dilshad, a charming artist in the making who describes henna designing as her innate passion. By Shalinee Bhardwaj

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‘Henna’-the name evokes image of beautiful hands decorated delicately with intricate designs in the much familiar reddish brown hue. Whether it is the ‘henna’ of Middle East or the ‘mehndi’ of India, it has been used for centuries in body decoration especially on weddings, festivals and other auspicious occasions; more commonly by women than men. Its popularity can be judged by the traditional ‘Henna (Mehndi) Night’ celebrated a day before the wedding in many cultures, during which the bride is decorated with elaborate henna patterns. As a result of human migration and cultural intermixing taking place across the world in modern times, the art of henna has spread to almost all parts of the globe. This makes it difficult to trace the history and origin of henna but, the historical accounts suggest its use by the earliest civilizations including the Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians, Semites, Ugaritics and Canaanites. Archaeological research indicates that henna was used in ancient

Egypt to stain the fingers and toes of Pharaohs prior to mummification. But research also argues that the Pharaohs were not the only Egyptians to use henna. Ani, a mummified scribe (1400BC) had fingernails stained with henna. There are also several medieval paintings depicting The Queen of Sheba decorated with henna on her journey to meet Solomon. Research indicates that henna has been expansively used in the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and North Africa for at least 5000 years in both cosmetic as well as healing capacities. The word henna derives its origin in the Arabic word al-Hinna and is prepared from the leaves of a shrub called Lawsonia inermis. This plant grows extensively in hot and dry climate and contains a reddish orange dye that binds to keratin (a protein found in our skin) and safely stains the skin. The stain varies in colour depending on the type and quality of henna used. It’s also believed to possess medicinal properties that help in reducing skin ailments, preventing hair loss and acting as a natural sun block. It

also acts as a cooling agent in hot weather when applied to palms and soles. To discover more about this enigmatic creation, Society spoke with Qatar based Henna designer Ridita Dilshad, a charming artist in the making who describes henna designing as her innate passion. A second year Telecommunication engineering student at the College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, her Facebook page ‘Ridita’s Henna’ receives a growing number of likes every day. “Telecom is what I want to learn more about and Henna is what is already in me. They form two aspects of my life and together they will help me achieve success in life”, quips Ridita. And undoubtedly, her henna designs have already gained significant clientele in Doha. “Currently, I only have a Facebook page and word of mouth from satisfied clients is mainly helping to spread my work.” Originally from Bangladesh, a country whose culture is not new to henna; Ridi-

KNOWING THE ARTIST

Favourite place to hang out : MIA PARK, DOHA | Favourite restaurant : FRIDAY’S Favourite artist : MY FIRST AND PROBABLY THE LAST ART TEACHER , MARK ALVARADO | Favourite novel : THE KITE RUNNER Favourite movie : TITANIC | My closest companion : TOO MANY TO MENTION THE NAMES. | What I love most : EATING What I hate most : PEOPLE WHO PULL OTHERS DOWN | Favourite dish : BIRYANI | Favourite attire : SARI One liner for looking good: BE CONFIDENT AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. | In my second life, I will like to be born as: I DON’T BELIEVE IN SECOND LIVES. | If granted a wish, that will be: TO BE HAPPY AND SPREAD HAPPINESS AROUND ME. Five years from now, I see myself as:

AN INDEPENDENT AND SUCCESSFUL INDIVIDUAL, WHO IS TRYING TO MAKE THE BEST OUT OF HER LIFE.

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ta’s interest in this form of art got ignited when she visited a beauty salon and saw a lady applying henna way back in the year 2000. “Last year just before Eid, one of my close friends visited Qatar after a long time. I applied henna on her and she was so impressed that she created ‘Ridita’s Henna’ on facebook to portray my work to everyone and encouraged me to update it regularly. It spread very fast and I was overwhelmed by the number of people liking my page. There were lots of enquiries; people ask me if I am a professional. I didn’t take it seriously at first but later I thought about it and started designing professionally”, informs Ridita about her beginnings into this enchanting venture. “My parents and siblings, especially my younger sister has been a great source of encouragement to me which, together with the constant support from my friends made me promote my talent and pursue my passion.” Ridita works with different designs depending on the occasion, the body part where henna design is applied and the liking of her customers. “The main types that differ at the core level are Arabic, Asian, Moroccan, Indian and Emirati Khaleeji designs. I show a sample of the various types of designs to my clients and let them choose the type they want. Sometimes I do a fusion among different kinds.”

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The art form of henna design varies from region to region. Varying designs symbolize different meaning in different cultures, such as good health, fertility, wisdom, protection and spiritual enlightenment. Arabic henna designs are usually less dense with large, floral and vine patterns while Indian mehndi involves fine, thin lines for lacy, floral and paisley patterns with lines and dots. African henna patterns are simple, bold, large geometric shapes and designs with abstract symbols. Masculine designs are generally kept basic, simple and small. With the increasing popularity of henna in making modern tattoos, non-traditional designs depicting objects or symbols of personal choice are also not uncommon. As any artist with a fertile sense of creation would do, Ridita tries not to stick to common designs. “I like to constantly ex-

periment with different designs and even different medium to apply henna on, and create something new. Henna-on-canvas and Henna calligraphy are a part of this tryout. I am currently working on creating artworks using henna.” Henna leaves different colour stain depending on the quality of henna, weather and skin type. Ridita gives our readers a few tips on how it can be made to come out darker, brighter and stay for long time. • After applying henna, let it dry out completely. Usually two hours are enough to give good colour. • Do not wash your hands to remove henna design. Scrub it out gently with oil. • Apply almond, coconut or mehndi oil on hands. Do not wash with

soap or water for at least four hours after application of henna. • Avoid doing housework or washing for few hours. • Some people can be allergic to henna available in the market. Always get a spot skin test done first. Henna design or henna art has withstood the test of time, taking newer forms and captivating interest of generations after generations. From traditional and spiritual indications to festivities and now as temporary tattoo, Henna has crossed borders of culture, ethnicity or religion and is liked by all as a richly beautiful art. It’s therefore not difficult to stand in praise of this remarkable gift of nature that induces feelings of happiness, beauty, enigma and trust in its bearer

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Ridita's Henna