On the busy lanes of the city's shopping hubs, it is hard to miss artists carefully etching innovative mehendi designs on the palms of young women. No amount of admiration, curious glances, stares or comments breaks their concentration.
These young artists don't need a shop for their business; all they require are the skill, some chairs and their mehendi cones. The artists — most of them migrants from north India — make a living only through this form of art that has found patronage here.
Ram Kailash, a mehendi artist from New Delhi is new to Bangalore and has set up a ‘shop' on the busy Commercial Street.
“In Delhi, people apply mehendi for all festivals, especially Karva Chauth, Raksha bandhan and Teej. However, in Bangalore, most of our customers come during Id,” he says.
Though these artists do not always have brisk business, they're hugely in demand during weddings, baby showers and even corporate events. The rates usually range between Rs. 25 and Rs. 2,000, depending on the design.
Sometimes we receive as many as 150 customers a day while at other times, not even one walks in, says Rajesh Gupta, another mehendi artist on Commercial Street. “During the wedding season, we get a lot of customers,” he adds.
Khubi Sharma, a student of St Joseph's college, says: “The way these artists apply mehendi is really commendable. The precision and the neatness is what make me go to Commercial Street often to get mehendi done. And because I come from Rajasthan, I can better connect with their art form.”
For many customers, applying mehendi is part of their tradition. “According to the Hindu custom, mehendi is part of the 16 adornments called the ‘solah shringaar' of the bride. I wear mehendi on all important functions and festivals,” says Bharati Anand, a school teacher.
While many are in this business because it's a family vocation, some are drawn to it art due to sheer fascination.
Mr. Gupta says he was fascinated by the intricate and creative designs and learnt to apply mehendi within four months. He started his own mehendi business in Mussoorie and later moved to Bangalore.