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The site I posted that has the page about Mehendi is an Indian site. When I
first saw Mehendi it was at a folklife festival in 1989, at a large booth
hosted by the Indian community. The women doing the designs on people were
recent immigrants, and spoke little English. They were dressed to the nines
in the most beautiful saris, had drawings of many Mehndi designs hung
around, had the designs on themselves, and we absolutely delighted that
people were lining up to get drawn on. So some criticism isn't suprising,
but it isn't universal.
Here is a nice quote from the beginning of their "Traditional Craft"
section: "A creator becomes one with the supreme being when involved in
giving shape to his art form. He who is able to see things with a perceptive
eye and is able to equate the form to matter, space and energy, creates."
Here's what it has to say about Mehendi:
"Henna or Maruthani as it is known in Tamil is derived from a plant. The
leaves of the plant have been used in India traditionally during auspicious
occassions. The leaves from the tree were plucked and ground into a thick
paste, which was applied in geometric designs on the palm & sole, before
retiring for the night & is allowed to dry overningt. The following morning
when the dried portion is washed off, a red pigmentation is left behind on
the applied area. This style was mostly prevalent in South India, where more
often a cricular patch is applied in the centre of the palm & a cap is
formed over the fingers. This style of decoration is also followed by
In the North, the habit of creating exquisite & intricate desings on the
palm as well as the forearm has been in practice. In this case a dry powder
form of henna is used. Mehendi is so popular & auspicious in the North, that
during weddings a special fuction is celebrated exclusively for applying
henna to the bride. Henna is a proven coolant for the system & is used for
medicinal purposes too. It is also used to dye the hair.
The mehendi powder has to be made into a fine paste with a few drops of
fresh lime juice. A cone or thin stick is used to apply the intricate
designs. Syrup of fresh lime juice mixed with sugar is periodically applied
in the semi dry stages, to prevent flaking. When the surface is wiped clean
after 5-6 hours, a red pigmentation is left behind."