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Fab Four redefining the Henna art form in Kashmir

The wedding ceremony is undoubtedly one of the most cherished moments in one’s life. Wedding day marks the advent of a new journey. However, to make this day memorable, it needs proper planning to the minutest details especially for women. Prior to wedd

Post by on Saturday, June 19, 2021

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Misabah Bhat

The wedding ceremony is undoubtedly one of the most cherished moments in one’s life. Wedding day marks the advent of a new journey. However, to make this day memorable, it needs proper planning to the minutest details especially for women. Prior to wedding day, brides-to-be are more finicky about applying Henna with unique designs tops the list.

For Kashmiri brides, the mehndiraat or maenziraat, night before Wedding day, is one of the most important functions when the bride patiently watches her hands and feet being adorned with trending Mehandi designs.

Once the wedding date gets fixed, the hunt for a good henna artist begins as no bride would compromise on the designs for her special day.

During the wedding season which usually falls between the months of April and October; it is one of the difficult tasks to book a perfect henna artist. The booking is done months before.

Finding a good female henna artist was a challenge a few years back but with the passage of time we can see more females are excelling as henna artists and currently there are hundreds of them offering their services in Kashmir.

These artists have taken the designs to the next level by experimenting with latest motifs giving attractive choices to brides.  We bring you some of the artists who over the years have made a name in the art by promoting their skills on social media platforms especially instagram.


Mehandi by Noor:

Noor (26) working in an MNC, IQVIA as a Safety associate trainee has been a henna artist for two years now. She has gained popularity in a short span of time and has about 6k followers on her Instagram account. She has been into art since her childhood.

“I have been interested in art since I was a kid and designing henna fascinated me,” said Noor.

Her journey started by applying henna to her cousins in the family.

“I used to apply henna on my cousins. I wasn’t professional nor had I thought of taking it as my profession.”

Her family and friends suggested her to make an Instagram profile. “That’s when I became serious about it. Though initially I was being skeptical considering the societal norms but it became normal now and I get a lot of appreciation,” said Noor.

She says she used to practice a lot during her initial years which has borne fruit and is fetching bookings.

She started with chemical henna but now uses organic henna.

Noor applies party henna at her home only as she does not travel to people’s homes.

Noor’s family has also been supportive of her work.

“My parents have encouraged me to become a full-time henna artist and till date they have left no stone unturned to educate me and help me in all my endeavours,” said Noor.

Noor has started with bold designs, but now she has been trying new patterns as well.

 “I have started intricate work lately and the response has been overwhelming. I have taken on a few more challenging designs this year.”

She believes that henna should be given equal attention as other components in wedding ceremonies like makeup, cinematography etc.

Noor’s experiences have been good, and she has been praised for the work she has done.

 “Many people have given me a lot of respect and love but there have been a lot of bitter and haunting experiences too,” she said.

Noor said, “Being a professional henna artist needs a lot of hard work, dedication and patience.”

 “I would like to quote one of my experiences which happened lately. I take bookings for morning and noon slots only and not for evening times. I had this booking with a girl who herself was a henna artist. We had decided a certain time in the day, but she did not show up. On calling she said that she was stuck up somewhere which I understood. Later, not only did she come extremely late, but she made me wait at her place for about 5 hours. I was so disturbed that I cannot express it in words. I would have left the booking, but I knew she cannot arrange an artist at this eleventh hour. This is how some people treat us and this is the story of every henna artist,” said Noor.

She said, “There are a lot of such experiences which I have witnessed, there have been instances when I was looked down upon and they are countless. I would like to convey the fact that henna designing is nothing but an art-form, it is a way to adorn the bride on her most special day. Please show us the respect we deserve.”


Mehandi by Azmat:

Azmat Bashir (26), MBA graduate has been involved with henna designing since her childhood. For her henna designing was initially just a hobby which she rarely practiced. Azmat uses both organic and inorganic henna depending upon the client’s choice.  “I apply henna on brides only. Some brides ask for inorganic henna because of its instant dark colour and some ask for organic one,” said Azmat.

Azmat had never planned on pursuing henna art as a profession and it all happened by chance.

 “I was not able to find any suitable job for myself. I created an Instagram page in 2019 and started posting my henna designs. I got a huge response and that is how it started,” she said.

Azmat’s family has been supportive throughout her journey.

 “There have been many hurdles but with my family’s support I was able to overcome each one of them,” said Azmat.

Azmat is now a bold henna artist and charges between Rs 6000 up to Rs10000.”

She said, “I apply bold and detailed designs. I also apply the designs which the brides want me to create by showing me the samples they like and then I charge accordingly.”

Though her work is tiring and hectic, she loves to bring smiles on the faces of brides with beautiful designs.

 “I always fulfill the commitments I make to my clients,” she said. Owing to this profession, she has her hands full.

“I don't have much time for family things and have sacrificed a lot for henna art.” Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, she takes a lot of precautions and asks her clients to do the same.


Mehandi Artist Afshana:

Afshana Nazir Malik (22) completed her degree recently and has been a henna artist for four years now. She started practicing henna designs on herself and other girls in the neighborhood.

Now she applies henna on brides and does it for other occasions as well. “My henna art kept getting better with each passing day and that is when I decided to make it my profession,” she said. She said her family has always been there for her through thick and thin and they have supported her in every possible way they could have. Afshana initiated with an Instagram page and her unique patterns got a lot of admiration from the people.

 “As soon as I created the page, I got bookings from brides,” she said. Covid-19 has not been much of a problem for her profession as she follows all necessary precautions.

Afshana uses organic and artificial henna according to the demand of customers.  “I do simple and detailed intricate patterns and the charges vary based on the type and pattern of the henna,” she said.


Mehandi by Mehwish:

Mehwish (26) from Hawal started practicing henna from the year 2013.

During weekly bridal appointments, Mehwish sits cross-legged for five to nine hours as she examines the fine lines and shape of a bride’s hands, gently squeezing the tip of a henna cone and drawing designs and patterns freehand.

It is a task that involves precision and patience but tends to be more difficult for the brides than it is for her.

 “It’s easy for me to sit in one place for six hours,” Mehwish said. “It’s harder for the bride to sit down and get her mehndi done.”

For a few years now Mehwish’s unique talent is becoming increasingly popular amongst brides as she applies different varieties of henna from classic traditional to 3D floral.

She also applies designs like Arabian, Indo-Arabian, gulf net, traditional designing and much more.

With 8 years of henna art experience, Mehwish has made a name for herself. She said that she does not have a personal style and does not believe too much in trends.

 “I have exclusive designs for the brides to choose from which I offer as a special ‘bridal package,’” said Mehwish.

She has different rates for every design.

 “Some brides still love the fuller style designs, but every bride I have met till now has different tastes and also an idea of what they’d like their henna to look like on the big day,” she said.

Mehwish is currently appointed by the University of Kashmir on contractual basis for teaching Henna to the students.

She is teaching henna art to other girls so they can earn their livelihood. Mehwish believes applying henna is not about earning but a great saving for the hereafter.

She has managed to convert her passion for henna into her profession which makes her happy and gives satisfaction as everybody is not lucky enough to get what they want.

 “I used to get disappointed in the beginning as the customer flow was not so good but gradually with time the response has been overwhelming which has put enough confidence in me,” she said.

Mehwish treats her clients as her family.

 “I have met some of the most wonderful, friendly and beautiful people while offering my services and made incredible connections. I am still in contact with them,” said Mehwish.


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