One of the joys of teaching my students is when they teach me about culture! One of my students came to talk to me about a topic that we covered in class. As we got to talking, my eyes automatically gravitated towards her hands. What did I see? HENNA!
What is Henna? It is a plant that has been used for centuries to dye skin, fingernails, cloth etc. In America, we see henna once in awhile at street fairs and festivals. I often talk and discuss henna in class when I lecture on the Middle East or India. The student beat me to my lecture.
Just from common knowledge and from speaking with others, henna is used a lot in Egyptian culture, in Persian culture, India and a few other Southeast Asian countries. Personally, I have only encountered henna from my Indian students and friends. My friends have talked about how henna is heavily used in Indian weddings. A couple of my students have even brought back authentic henna from India that supposedly stays on MUCH LONGER (months) as opposed to weeks.
The holiday known as Karva Chauth just happened a few days ago (November 2nd) The date coincides with harvest times which happens to be about 4 days after a full moon around October and November. Hindu or Sikh women will fast for their husbands. To me this gesture is very romantic. They fast as a way to show their dedication and loyalty to their husbands. I believe they also pray for a long marriage and a prosperous marriage. When the moon comes up, a full feast is shared between husband and wife. My student told me that a lot of single women will do this for a future husband or significant other. Henna hands also become part of the festivities.
The picture shown is from both hands of my student that I currently teach. She gave me permission to photograph her hands. I wanted to share this with others. Look at the beauty and detail in the henna designs. Truly a beautiful display of art on the hands.
For those of you interested in this type of art, you can get your own hands henna’d. Look for your local Indian community. In San Diego, the location happens to be right off of Black Mountain Road. They have a shop that sells Saris (Traditional Indian Dresses) They henna hands for $20 and up.
Try :Little India Center
Black Mountain Rd,
San Diego, CA 92126