Whence cometh mehendi on the palms of dames from far away countries visiting North Malabar? The crimson blush on the Canadian lady’s arms as she strolls through the Bekal Fort is hard to miss. If you would go up and ask those women, they would tell you of Fathimathul Jazeera whose ornamental mehendi is part of the Malabar folklore.
Mehendi tales from Thalassery
Jazeera’s affair with mehendi designing is as old as she can remember. But it became her profession quite by accident. While waiting for her little boy’s turn for a haircut at a beauty salon in Thalassery, her native place, Jazeera spoke to a bride-to-be who was keen on looking her best on the D-day. Jazeera mentioned her long innings as the family’s official mehendi artist and the bride decided so it would be for her wedding too. And that became the launch of Jassera’s career in mehendi designing. 18 years down the line, she is one of the most sought-after, trending, globe-trotting mehendi designers from Kerala.
Coloured glitter mehendi is trending
Much mehendi has coloured many a beautiful palm since Jazeera took up her passion as a profession. Gone are the days when mehendi was prepared the traditional way - the leaves plucked fresh from ‘mailanchi’ plants that thrived in the backyards of houses, ground to paste and applied using thin midriffs of coconut fronds.
Trending right now is coloured mehendi that can match the shades of a lady’s outfit. It is further adorned with glittery embroidery. Pearls and stones used on the outfit can be used in the mehendi designs too, says Jazeera.
Having introduced her clientele in Malabar to the allure of coloured mehendi, Jazeera says it now has the most takers compared to the classic monochrome of old times. After the mehendi is done in the usual manner, the colours are used to lace the design. The glitter is then spread on to the pattern with great care.
The glitter mehendi is done with customized cones. Jazeera says that with more than 60 shades that can be mixed up with mehendi designs, she enjoys letting her brides be spolit for choice. Top it off with pearls and stones, the beautiful palms of the bride are sure to be the show stealer, she says.
When tattoos lost out to mehendi
Jazeera lived for a while with her family in Japan. Her mehendi designs had found a lot of fans among friends. The bright crimson patterns soon caught the attention of Japanese tattoo lovers. Jazeera began getting requests for mehendi designs from them who asked for motifs and patterns connected with Japanese culture. Jazeera soon tweaked her designs to suit the taste of Japanese women. Her fans soon gave up tattooing in favour of mehendi. The girls grew so fond of the charms of mehendi that they got it done on their body just like tattoos, remembers Jazeera.
A mehendi club to take the tradition forward
With 18 enviable years of mehendi designing behind her, Jazeera has had the privilege of being recognized as the practitioner of an art in Japan, Dubai, Qatar and so on. Her skill has also found recognition in her home state where she is often invited as a judge of mehendi designing contests. She says that a lot of talented women are taking up the art of mehendi designing seriously - as a hobby and a profession. She looks forward to forming a ‘mehendi club’ where they can all share their ideas and benefit from their experiences. She believes that such a platform can go a long way in keeping this traditional art alive in the changing times.