When I was living in India, my favorite week end treat was to wake up early and wander in markets. It’s an unique experience for all the senses, the flagrance of the spices and fresh cut herbs (and man.. those samosas!), the mountains of fabrics of all shades of materials, the sparkly bangles..
If you are fortunate enough to have an Indian friend, s/he’ll share with you beautiful wedding stories, where toe rings and red bangles mean much more than you thought..
They are here to leave their hands to the talent of those men who draw with henna (mehndi) on their palm, back of the hand and sometimes on their feet. Initially sed as a form of decoration mainly for Hindu brides, this henna is typically applied during weddings and festivals.
In India, it is said that henna has been used since at least 700 AD for decorating hands and feet. Henna paste is usually applied on the skin using a plastic cone or a paint brush. After about 15–20 minutes, the mud will dry and begin to crack, and during this time, a mixture of lemon juice and white sugar can be applied over the henna design to remoisten the henna mud so that the henna will stain darker. The final color is reddish brown and can last anywhere from one to three weeks.
Professor Wikipedia told me that the drawings are intended to be a symbolic representation of the outer and the inner sun. Can any of my Indian friend tell me more?..
The work is so precious, so intricate, I have always wandered what if a mosquito bites you on the arm during the drawing? what a torture it must be, to be able to focus long enough on your breathing to forget the pain and admire the work. Absolutely worth it though !