Mehandi and Alta
Have you ever put a tattoo and regretted wearing it later on. Well, most people do. One of the best examples for this can be a person who has worn her friend's name and later married someone else. This can be an oops moment in your life if you wear permanent tattoo.
India is a beautiful country with different cultures. Every culture has it's different tradition and customs. I will exhibit interesting arts and culture of India through my articles. So, this is my first post in this regard. This article is about Mehandi and Alta which is the adorable art of Hindu, Islamic and Punjabi culture. Mehandi is very famous in North India and is put by almost every women.
We will see how to make a mixture of henna. Now, most of you would be wondering what this henna is? Well, Henna is a dye made from the plant Lawsonia inermis, also known as the henna tree. The dry leaves of this plant are crushed to make a powder which is mostly known as Mehandi. This has been used for years in India for wearing an idea on hand.
The idea worn can be different according to the occasion. For example, if it is a Teej, Indian Festival, you would put some flowery tattoo. If you are getting married you would like to wear his name in your design. Well, these are not the mere occasions when you want to use Mehandi. I think there is no specific time of putting Mehandi as there is no specific season to celebrate yourself. If you celebrate yourself every day, you can put Mehandi every other day. I think Mehandi symbolizes the happiness of women in India. I think it is mostly used in this subcontinent due to hot climate. India is a very hot country and Mehandi removes heat from your body. This is why, it is also applied on hair. If you ever come to India you will see most of the people using "chini mitti" and Mehandi on the head. Chini Mitti is a different composition. It has a clayey texture and you feel really relaxed after putting both of these. Lets see how to make Mehandi for hands today.
How it stains
Henna stain the skin through lawsone molecules found on the henna leaf. The fresh leaves are taken from the tree and dried.Then, they are crushed into powder. It stains the skin when the powder is mixed with tea water and made into a paste. The lawsone moves from the henna into the outer layer and binds to the cuticle of the skin. This creates an orangish stain. The stain turns dark brown after 3-4 hours.
So do not expect dark tattoo as soon as you put Mehandi. It will turn darker after some time.
Boiled tea as solvent for henna
Prepare Henna for hands
Step1. Take a kettle and add 1 cup water to it. Boil some tea leaves in it. Keep boiling till the water becomes dark brown/black in color. Pour it in a glass and keep this water for cooling for 5-8 mins. This liquid will be mixed with henna powder to make a paste. The tea water gives you the dark texture. If you put henna directly, it will give you orangish shade but if you add tea water to it, it will give you dark brown shade.
Always use tea water when using henna for the head as it will cleanse and moisturize your scalp.
Step 2. Now take 8 spoons henna powder and put in a bowl.
Step 3. Add the tea water to the bowl slowly and try to create a smooth paste. Use a spoon to whisk and create a thick consistency.
Step 4. This paste can now be put into the cones of plastic sheets and used to form various designs.
Moving this cone on hand to get a proper design is an art. In the link below you can see the various types of design.
This paste can also be used with Alta, another red dye which is worn by women in India and Bangladesh on feet during marriages and festivals. Wearing Alta is important ritual in Bengalis and South Indians. It is worn on hands and feet. It is not used to dye hair . So, don't try doing that else you will end up with the messy hair.
It is worn mostly at the time of marriage but as I said there is no time to celebrate yourself. You can adorn your feet with Alta at any time.
Alta was originally produced from lac. It is extracted from Kerria lacca found in Asia.
Alta is available as a dye in the market. It cannot be made easily at home as it is very difficult to extract from the insect so, better buy it from the market.
Alta gives you deep red color where you apply it. It can also be used with the Mehandi to give you the complete traditional look.
3 Advantages of using Henna instead of Tattoo.
1. Henna is 100% natural.
2. Henna is fast and painless. It is a relaxing experience.
3. Calm you by removing the excess heat from your body.
The Mehandi is made from natural ingredients hence it is not harmful. When you go for a tattoo, you get injected with the chemicals which may result in side effects. In my case I got allergic. Moreover, you can easily change the design after five days if you use henna. I think Mehandi is an organic alternative to tattoos. So don't wait and get your henna pack and prepare your Mehandi today.