Mehendi makeover

From brides to anyone interested in this traditional art, 17-year - old Aysha will give you your heart’s designs
By Dhananjani Silva, Pix by M.A. Pushpa Kumara

Aysha Aslam was just 11 years when she saw her elder sister working on beautiful Mehendi art. “I used to get jealous when I saw how beautifully she did it that I also wanted to learn, so I started practising just by looking at her,” says a smiling Aysha.

Skilful hand: Aysha at work

First she tried putting Mehendi on herself; then on her family and friends. Soon, it became more than just a fun activity for this teenager who is now so skilled that she decorates the brides who come to her mother’s salon with elegant bridal Mehendi designs.  Now just 17, Aysha is much in demand, attending Mehendi parties and other functions to provide her services.  

Up to now she has done about 30-40 brides, both Muslim and Indian. “In our culture any happy occasion be it a wedding ceremony or Eid, is incomplete without Mehendi. Nowadays, the trend is that even non-Muslims put on Mehendi,” she says recalling that very recently she had a customer from Australia who came to her home in Dehiwela to get the Mehendi done while on vacation.  During the festival when Aysha travels to her home town in Galle, she visits children’s orphanages to apply Mehendi on the kids to prepare them for the festival, she says.

Mehendi is put on the bride the day prior to the wedding ceremony and somewhere in the design you draw the name or the initials of the groom. The groom has to find it later, she explains. Elaborating, Aysha says a common cultural belief is that the darker the bride’s Mehendi design gets, it indicates the love of the husband and the in-laws for her.

There are various types of Mehendi designs; Indian, Rajasthani to Arabic and Pakistani, she adds.  “Arabic is a simple design put on for normal functions where as bridal Mehendi covered up to the elbow is somewhat different. However, it is up to the customer to decide how she wants it,” she says adding that should they prefer, the customers can bring their own design to get it done the way they want. To add more glamour the Mehendi design can be decorated with glitter.

Breaking free from tradition, Mehendi is fast gaining popularity as a form of body art with different purposes, especially among fashion conscious youngsters. For the cooling effect it gives some prefer to apply it on their heads-- this is a common practice in Arab countries while there are those who colour their nails with Mehendi or wear it as tattoos, she explains.

With years of practice, drawing what seems an intricate Mehendi design is all in a day’s work for Aysha, who is now hoping to conduct Mehendi classes for students in the near future.

Aysha can be contacted on 0777220770, 2718521 or via

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