Hope with Henna and Celebrating Baldness
By Khalidha Naushad
Not so many of us are willing to embrace both sides of life, which is why we are sometimes depressed. But those who know to deal with tough situations, win in life. While we are grumbling about small things that deter us from accepting the life that we have been blessed with, it’s beyond words to express how this henna artist, Nazma Mazhar, is helping cancer patients embrace their lives through her henna crowns.
Originally from Kandy, Sri Lanka, Mazhar has been living in Doha Qatar for the past four years with her husband. She is also a social media content creator and social activist who hit the internet recently for her extraordinary project called ‘I Love Myself’ in which she uses her artistic talents as a personal charity project to bring happiness and boost selfconfidence in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, “my only vision is to make them happy and give them self-confidence with my piece of art,” says Mazhar.
Mazhar, the self-taught henna artist who moved to Qatar in the year 2017, is a teacher by profession. She studied Child Psychology and Teaching at the American College in Kandy. Although Mazhar loves teaching and working with children, her true passion has been art and photography since she was a 13-year-old, “I think I am keen on photography, videography and henna designing”. When asked about her goals in life, the henna artist says, “My goal is to live my life to the fullest while making social changes in the world to make it a better place to live.” Mazhar says she is grateful to her parents and all others around her for supporting and believing in her. She is also thankful to her husband for his support, “He is my backbone and encourages me in everything I do.”
‘I Love Myself’
The passing of some people closest to her due to cancer was what encouraged her to start this project. “…I lost my aunt due to cancer back in 2017 and my cousin, last year. Their loss inspired me to start this project,” she shares. Taking all these challenges as an inspiration, she initiated her ‘I Love Myself’ project in order to make patients feel special and help them embrace all of what they are going through. Many women who are experiencing hair loss due to illness or intrusive treatments such as alopecia or cancer therapies, lose their confidence and have low self-esteem.
They step back and stay at home just to hide their baldness. “I saw some of them losing their hair, and they don’t like to come out with it because they think it shows more sickness in their face, so once they get their henna crown done, they feel like ‘queens’.” She adds, “so it’s really nice if we could help people who are going through a tough time. Use your skills and make them feel special by every way possible.” Mazhar‘s charity initiative is being loved by many people from all over the world and they are lauding her for her nobleness.
The art of Henna
Henna is an ancient art originated from bronze age but still in use by many Asian countries, “It is a dye prepared from the plant Lawsonia inermis, also known as the henna tree, the mignonette tree, and the Egyptian privet.” Mazhar explains. It was used in the ancient times as a remedy to maintain the body temperature. But in present, its widely used as a body art, “The henna can also refer to the temporary body art resulting from the staining on the skin from the dyes. Henna is mostly used in Asian and Arabic culture to create body art on special occasions like weddings and parties.” According to Mazhar, the artwork will typically remain visible on the skin for up to two weeks.
Some people use Henna as “temporary tattoos, to colour their hair and various other purposes” she says. The significance of Henna is that it’s safe for every type of skin, “Henna doesn’t harm your skin and that is why I use this paint on the patients.” There are different types of henna, “Natural, jagua and white henna” elaborates Mazhar. “Natural henna is made out of henna leaves, jagua henna is a fruit ink and it's made out of Jagua fruit and also called as a Jagua gel, it's gives the stain after 12 hours of applying. Finally, the White henna is not the ideal henna but a mix of body paint and body glue which don't typically give the stain.”
The henna crown
Mazhar began as a henna artist back in the year 2017 to support herself financially, “I own the Qatari Henna Studio and I’m also working as a freelance artist.” The henna artwork is done on the scalp of the person who have lost their hair completely. When asked if she visits the clients, Mazhar answers, "I visit them to apply the henna crown because I don't want to tire or stress them, and I’m ready to provide my service free-of-charge.” Her ability to share her skills in the best way possible proves how amazing this young woman is. Most clients prefer to choose their own henna crown design but Nazma says, “My clients offer me the chance to decide the henna crown design myself and it's easy for me as an artist.” Henna application can be a hard work taking upto 30-45 minutes but if the clients choose the design, it takes upto one or two hours.
“But I just love doing it” says Mazhar, cheerfully. Sharing a particular experience with one of her clients, she notes, “A lady came to me to get henna done on her head. When she first arrived, she looked sad. After the artwork was completed, she looked at the mirror, and her face lit up. She was so happy; she was almost jumping with joy”. Her takeaway from doing this work? “These women struggle with lack of confidence. They don’t know they are special. And I want to make them feel special.” She further adds, “After all, humanity means making each other happy and helping each other.”