As I went about exploring the Market that seemed to never sleep, Gariahat illuminated for me many facets of Kolkata’s candour and culture. A city that introduces you to people of fine art and skills, a city that weaves magic with sometimes a paintbrush, sometimes a humble wooden flute, sometimes with the story of the people that come together to make the city what it is!
A comforting tune, an inspiring poem, a bard by the lane, a painter by the pukur, Kolkata cajoles you into believing that you can find your calm within all the chaos that surrounds you. Gariahat being only a glimpse of what the city has in store for you!
Hawkers of Kolkata series has over time become a way for me to discover the lesser known stories of inspiration, a way to refine perspectives and a refreshing activity that enables me to re-explore my city!
After having walked for a few minutes, I reached Basanti Devi college, outside which sits many a few Mehendi artists! Lining the footpath all with a couple of plastic stools and a catalog of designs, the artists paint on their client’s hands their story with an ink of love!
Applying mehendi is a a quintessential part of Indian culture. Made with henna, a powder made from the leaves of the henna tree, mehendi is a traditional form of body art.
Indian brides apply mehendi on their hand and feet as a part of the wedding rituals. To make the activity fun, personalized and interesting, the artists also draw names of the groom on the bride’s hand, skillfully making it a part of the design, rightfully earning the title – Ink of Love – Mehendi is one of the first few wedding ceremonies for the bride and the groom’s families.
When we think about the art of applying Mehendi, a simultaneous thought of an artist who’d be a lady comes to our mind. At Gariahat, not women but it is men who draw beautiful designs for the women on their hands with henna. I stopped at Munna’s makeshift stall to know about his journey.
Diligently applying mehendi with swift strokes of the hand, his cone of mehendi drew dark, neat motifs on his client’s hand. Continuing with his work under the tree and a street light, he told me that he has been a mehendi artist for nearly 20 yrs!
At about 9am in the morning, he arrives at his designated place with a stock of mehendi, essential oils, some pieces of rags, his catalogue and a stock of imagination in abundance! Right under the tree on which hangs a hoarding displaying details of his venture, he brings the art alive with his ink of love.
Assisted by his brother, he takes about half an hour to apply mehendi on two hands, depending on the preferences of the client. Ranging from 200 to 2000+ he has mastered the art of applying Mehendi and can beautify the hands with his unique styles and designs.
My eyes were stuck at enjoying the skill at play, the pleasant scent of henna added on to the vibe and the sound of wedding songs playing on a transistor nearby transported me to a big fat Indian wedding set up! To watch the design come into being is fascinating!
Munna enjoys his work of adorning hands of many brides with the ink of love and is proud of the skills that he has acquired!
As told to me by a waiting customer, you can expect to find the mehendi walas at Gariahat all through the week. Occupied in his work, I didn’t further have the willingness to disturb him and thanking him for his time, I took his leave after capturing this picture –
You may choose and read any of my previous posts for the BlogchatterA2Z challenge at –
Post A – Amidst the City of Chaos, his world Exists
Post B – Belly of Bertram Street
Post C – Connoisseur of Flavours around the Street
Post D – Dainty Dealers
Post E – Evening Feasts
Post F – Full of Life at 89!
Post G – Gleefully at Work
Post H – Hoichoi of Gariahat