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Body art

THE MEHENDI trend is catching on in Chennai. Call it the promotion of Hindi cinema or the attempt to look Indian, mehendi ceremonies are creeping into South Indian weddings. Says Sudha, who got married recently, "All of us got mehendi done on our hands and feet. It really added to the festive atmosphere.

Mehendi design is an art. It is done by professionals.

The designs are intricate and can be anything from flowers or traditional motifs to even simple depiction of scenes from tales. Each design is evolved from the creativity of the mehendiwali. So popular has this art form become that inter college and school fests have mehendi design as an event. Not to be left behind, most beauty parlours now offer mehendi as part of their bridal makeup packages.

Shilpa D. Makhwana, who specialises in mehendi design, says that she gets the powder from Sojat in Rajasthan. She traces the origins of mehendi a few hundred years back to Marwad. The ground leaves were mixed with ladies' finger paste to help it adhere to the skin. The various types of mehendi include Gujrati; Marwadi phool patti, Mumbai,

Hyderabadi and Arabic, adds Shilpa.

Bridal mehendi is intricate and the designs stretch up to the elbow and above the feet. It can cost anything from Rs.550 to Rs. 2000. Henna powder is sieved well and mixed with tea decoction, lime juice or sugar syrup. There are many other ingredients too that go into the powder. For best results the paste is made 24 hours before use. It is filled in polythene cones and after application left to dry for about 6-8 hours.

These days, mehendi cones, tubes and stencils are available in the market. Mehendi tattoos have also hit the market. Black and coloured mehendi is also available but they have a few chemical additives. There is zardosi mehendi too, to go with heavily sequined lehengas or ghagras or even nail polish mehendi to go with westerns.

A tip from Shilpa for gorgeous colour: peel off the dry mehendi with a blunt knife. Avoid using water. Then rub hands with coconut oil or Vicks Vaporub. Use talcum powder after the palms are dry.

Henna has medicinal properties too. It is a natural body coolant and is used as a natural hair-colouring agent and conditioner. To prepare henna for hair colour, mix henna powder with shikakai, lime and curd. Henna hair oil can be prepared very easily using henna, hibiscus flowers and leaves. These are dried and added to coconut oil.

Mehendi is very much part of a bridal trousseau — reflecting the mood of the day and symbolising a bright future.

S. BHARGAVI

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