Mehendi is a tradition of body art that uses a natural, plant-based paste called henna to dye the skin. Mehendi is also known as henna in the West and is a temporary form of skin decoration. Historically, henna was used in the Arabian Peninsula, Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and other parts of North Africa. Henna has been used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.
Apart from its historical use as a form of body art, it is used to adorn the hands and feet of women during holidays and celebrations since the late Bronze age in the eastern Mediterranean. It is also used as a form of hair dye, and recently as a temporal substitute to eyebrow tint or a temporary tattoo.
Nowadays, henna has made its way across the globe, yet many still follow the traditions and value the initial use of it. With Eid around the corner, Muslim women are making a beeline for Mehendi artistes to get their hands decorated with henna.
Combining her limitless creativity and talent, Nushrath Sikander is one of the Sri Lanka’s finest mehendi artists. With over 17 years of experience, Nushrath is extremely passionate about the art of henna and has mastered the craft. You’ll find her various designs with very intricate detail that’ll leave you in awe.
“I love my work as I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know many cultures and rituals. I loved drawing when I was a kid but, never knew I would come this far for the love I had for art. I strongly believe that if my art can make someone happy and smile then this is the best decision I have ever made to be an artist,” Nushrath explains.
She fully understands the requirements and the desired look of her client which she then uses to create a customise design according to their requirements, outfit, jewellery, wedding monogram to complement client’s individual style and personality.
Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us a bit about the story behind Art of Mehendi by Nushrath?
Art of mehendi by Nushrath was initially started through word of mouth. Afterwards, we got bookings and appointments through our social media although it was hardly used by many people back then. I am really glad and amazed to see so many clients contacting for their bookings through our Facebook and Instagram.
I specialise in bridal mehendi, Indian patterns, gulf patterns and Indo-Arabic patterns. I am grateful and thankful to my husband, family, friends and team for their support; my success wouldn’t have been possible without them.
What exactly is mehendi and what are the ingredients?
Mehendi is a form of body art and temporary skin decoration from the Indian subcontinent usually drawn on hands or legs, in which decorative designs are created on a person’s body, using a paste.
Mehendi paste is made of henna powder (dried mehendi leaves), sugar, essential oils such as tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil or cajeput oil.
Can you tell us a bit about the tradition of henna and how it has transformed into a popular art?
Traditionally, Henna has been used for centuries for body decoration and is associated with many cultural celebrations. People in the early civilisation used it primarily for cosmetic purposes and to adorn their hands and body with henna. Ancient Egyptians used it prior to mummification to dye hands.
Eventually, it evolved into popular art. Henna was first applied as a means to cool down the body. A little was applied to the palm of the hands and helped to cool the body heat. The early users of henna began to add lines and other shapes. Eventually this elaboration became the beautiful designs we see today.
How long have you been practicing applying mehendi and from where do you draw your inspiration?
I have been in this field for the past 17 years and I am so happy that I chose to be a mehendi artist. I get inspired from all the art I see around me. It can be material, prints to nature and I also get inspired by well-known artists around the world.
What are some of the most popular designs that are requested by the customers?
Bride and groom figures to be drawn on their hands, which is a popular Indian tradition of wedding stories to be drawn in the form of henna.
How do you go about creating a design?
First, I always have a conversation with my client to know what they are interested in and their requirements. According to that I create the design.
What rituals or occasions are most popular for henna art?
– Bridal showers
– Puberty ceremony
– Bridal mehendi
– Mehendi themed events
– Photo shoots
– Baby showers and many more.
Anything else that you would like to add?
Recently, for the first time in Sri Lanka we did a saree blouse mehendi for a photoshoot and we received an overwhelming response from all around the world.
Thanks to our breath-taking beaches and lush green mountain regions, Sri Lanka is a popular and favourite wedding destination, from beach resorts to private villas. As a Sri Lankan mehendi artist, I take pride in working at destination weddings. It allows me to meet and showcase my skills to clients from across the globe with varying cultures and backgrounds. Hoping to do many more unique and trendy styles of mehendi.
By Shafiya Nawzer