Mehndi or henna is a popular dye used in India, Pakistan and surrounding countries. The most beautiful and intricate designs are applied to the hands and feet of both men and women and while it is most commonly for weddings and Hindu ceremonies it is also perfectly acceptable for the everyday. Mehndi is made from grinding the leaves of the henna plant and is applied to the skin and left to set for 20 minutes or more until the paste dries, cracks and eventually falls off leaving a brown or black dye on the skin. It is thought to be good luck and is, in my opinion a perfect accessory that lasts about two weeks. Mehndi can be purchased in small cones here in Chennai for about 16 cents (or 10 rupees) and is, take my word for it, an extremely precise art form.
When I began to think of the perfect fusion for our egg decorating this year, henna was the first thing that came to mind. I must be honest, I considered taking my half of a dozen eggs to a nearby neighborhood where a group of gentlemen-experts sit beneath umbrellas applying henna in the afternoons, but wanted to have a try at it myself. The verdict: practice, practice, practice! My designs are far from perfect, but they sure were fun to try.
I took to the internet for design inspiration and even tried some intricate designs picked from the fabric of Mrs. Rita’s sari one afternoon, but you could get some great ideas out of books like this one. I am told that while most mehndi designs are done off-the-cuff (no pun intended!) that many are symbolic, consisting of geometric patterns and designs to ward of spirits, invite luck and inspire fertility. Inspiration is truly everywhere here.