It either has dedicated lovers or staunch haters; there’s no in-between. The whole process of transformation from dry light green to wet dark green to dry blackish and then the final lovely crimson is enthralling for few, while others simply equate it with the droppings of milking sacred animals.
Get it yet? What else can it be, other than the humble Mehndi, or Heena as it is more eminently called? For the record, I’m amongst the lovers. 😀
I belong to a traditional Marwari family (with almost none of their qualities though) where some or the other big or small ritual is observed almost every other week, especially by the women in the family. Any festival or puja is considered incomplete without the women flaunting beautiful mehndi designs on their palms and sometimes even legs.
Though mainly considered a female thing, at the time of weddings or important occasions even men are made to apply it as a symbol of good luck. My Dad was never averse to it and willingly sat down to get his hands smeared with it. Thankfully, A is the same. My brother, on the other hand, would talk to me only through a handkerchief over his nose for at least two days. 😛
When I was younger I studied in a convent which thankfully did not have the ‘no-mehndi’ rule like most convents today. Even when nothing more than a flower could find place on my tiny palm, my Mom would expertly make a rather beautiful one. Her skills might’ve rubbed on me, since I got quite good at it myself when I grew up.
There is something nostalgic about the whole thing. Blackmailing our near and dear ones to feed us when we were drying the mehndi on our hands, fighting with the magically appearing itchy feeling every time until finally requesting someone to do the needful for us, dusting the wayward shards of dry mehndi stuck to our clothes and from our bed the next day, etc. was fun! 🙂 🙂
Whether it is applied on hand or used for hair-conditioning, I simply love its smell! The way Mom sieved it through a muslin cloth and then soaked it with Nilgiri oil overnight gave it the aroma and shade that the chemically made readymade cones available in the market cannot even come close to.
Which side are you on? Do you have any anecdotes to share?