Gonikhan market in Srinagar is known as women’s hub and it remain abuzz with customers from across the valley. Ahead of Eid-ul-Adha, women are seen busy with the shopping of new clothes as well as dyeing their hands and feet withhenna (Mehandi)by the henna artists present in the market.
Mohammad Iqbal, a local Mehandi designer at Gonikhan said there is a heavy rush of customers this week. Women folk prefer Pakistani henna designs on Eid and so far 30-35 girls have turned up in his shop to dye henna.
He said the rate of dying of Mehandi varies depending on the design. “For a well-designed Mehandi, the price is higher due to the labour involved,” he said.
Iqbal said a design mehndi cost between Rs 200 and Rs 400 per hand adding that the price rises to Rs 600 per hand as the Eid approaches.
“My mother and brother are also helping me get customers. We have a good number of customers this year as compared to past years. We have kept ready around 10-14 henna designs for women this year,” Iqbal said.
Saima Rashid, a customer from Qamarmari said she had come to market to dye her hands with Mehandi. “I love to apply henna designs on my hands on the eve of Eid and I have been coming here for a long time,” she said.
Pawan, another henna artist, said other common styles include Arabian and traditional bridal patterns.“Henna style with a solitary leaf pattern is gaining popularity,” he said.
The artist said they are living in Kashmir for the past several months. “We came here in Ramadan and at that time also we managed to get handsome money. The range of henna designs starts from 100-1000 rupees,” he said.
He said on Eid, most women like to apply Arabic design mehndi which is trending in Kashmir and has attracted women.
Ateeqa Bano, a local from Bohri Kadal said Eid celebrations are incomplete without dying henna designs.
“Earlier, women used to apply Mehandi on each other's hands, but now people flock to Mehandi artists to get the trendy designs on their palms,” she said, adding “women adorn their hands, arms, and feet with henna a day before Eid.
Mumtaz Bano is one of the hundreds of artists whose stalls near LD Hospital attract hundreds of women on Eid-ul-Adha.
“I can paint any design,” the teenage artist told Rising Kashmir. “The customer just shows me one in their phone or select from our design booklet, I craft it,” she said.
Mumtaz works at a beauty salon in Hyderpora but she prefers to work at this roadside market on Eids. “I like the vibe. Here, you have more customers and a chance of earning more money as compared to working at the salon,” she said.
Asma Bano, a Mehadi artist from Pattan said she has been involved with henna designing since her childhood. For her henna designing was initially just a hobby that she rarely practiced. “This Eid, I got many clients,” she said.
On this Eid, Asma said Mehandi designs keep changing as per the fashion trends. Recently, Arabic designs gained popularity while at present Indo-Arabic, Indian, and Pakistani designs are popular, she said.
Asma believes that Mehandi on Eids is considered auspicious in Islamic culture. Though lately, every bride prefers painting their hands and feet with Mehandi, she said.
Mohammad Rizwan, another henna artist at Gonikhan said the craze for Hyderabadi Mehandi started with bold patterns that used jet-black henna. “This unique henna style has evolved quickly and now offers many variations,” he said.
Rizwan said Mehendi paste is associated with positive spirits and good luck. “It is my passion. I apply the best designs to palms of women to make them happy,” he said.
Similar markets are set up on Eid-ul-Adha in different parts of the city, including the famous Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta and Dargah Hazratbal.