It is not just about painting hands with henna — women now have a choice of Arabic, Indian and traditional designs offered by henna experts at different salons. They can also colour their henna designs or apply glitter matching to their dresses.
Beauty parlours offering such specialties experience a big rush of women and girls looking for exclusive designs for their hands. “Arabic designs are thicker as compared to Indian and traditional designs whereas Indian designs are mostly based on ‘kairi’ pattern that sometimes overlaps with designs offered in traditional styles,” said Natasha Kazmi, an Image Consultant who runs a chain of salons in different sectors of Islamabad.
Talking about some new trends in henna application, she said good salons also offer colouring of the remaining part of hands after applying henna pattern. “Our experts brief clients about all options. Besides, the girls are now aware of all kind of patterns through social media. Sometimes, they come with their own pattern,” she said.
With everyone keenly awaiting the announcement of moon sighting to start preparing sweets for the big day, girls anxiously look forward to applying the magic substance on their hands and feet.
For virtually every girl, Eid festivities are not complete unless beautiful henna, or ‘mehndi’ designs do not adorn their hands. “There is no Eid without henna, ‘Eidee’ and bangles,” says an excited O level student, Maheen Khan.
“If you apply henna on ‘Chaand Raat’, you get a genuine excuse of not working in kitchen while mothers are preparing sweets for the next morning,” said Maheen jokingly while describing another benefit of applying henna on Eid.
With the increase in variety of virtually everything, henna too has seen change with new forms emerging. “Some girls still find the traditional design that sees just the finger tips being covered with henna and a ‘sun’ like pattern on the palm. However, the style in vogue is Indian,” opined Natasha.
Some girls also opt for the glitter ‘mehndi’, a new form of the substance that fades away if hands are washed. Another popular style is the tattoos, easily available in the market. “A vast majority of girls go for the Arabic style as it is more traditional and simple,” says Saman David, a college student, who works with a beauty parlour and applies henna during Eid days.
Saman, who specialises in Arabic style, said that she has about 40 to 50 girls coming in on ‘Chaand Raat.’ “The rush is much greater in big parlours,” she pointed out adding that only young girls were keen to have patterns on their hands and feet.
Henna, traditionally used by women of this region to colour their hands, nails and hair, is originally a herb. Its true benefit lies in its healing power to treat certain skin problems and also some diseases such as sunstroke because of its cooling effect.
But Henna applied these days, commonly called cone ‘mehndi’, is laced with chemicals that give a darker shade as compared to the original. Skin specialists believe that these chemicals kill all the herbal advantages and sometimes also lead to skin problems.
Saman also confirmed that these brands were freely available in the market and advised the girls to first apply some ‘mehndi’ on one part of the hand for a few minutes just to check if it caused irritation.
Describing some of the benefits of cone ‘mehndi’, Saman explained that it emerged with good colour and dries up quickly. “It can also be removed easily if washed with bleach and is popular because it saves time.”