Thursday, May 7, 2009
On my Profile Photo
Yes, those are my hands. They're covered in mehendi, which is henna paste applied and allowed to dry. It's a decorative art that's thousands of years old and is practiced in many countries for different reasons. In India it's typically associated with special occasions having to do with transecndence and transformation. When I've asked about it, some people have told me it also has to do with warding off the evil eye.
Mine was done in India for the occasion of the reception that Mowgli's parents threw for us last year. A cousin's 13-year-old daughter did the honors; she had a book of patterns with her and let me pick out what I liked, then did the work freehand. She had premixed tubes with tiny tips; she did my hands and feet in the space of an hour.
On my wrists are gold bangles; some are mine, some are my mother-in-law's. I also wore a combination of necklaces, some hers, some mine. The mix appeals to me both in terms of the symbolism of the joining of families, and the trust implicit in letting someone else wear your special-occasion jewelry.
The last of the mehendi wore off three weeks after it was applied. It was still clearly visible when we came back to the States, and a lady in one of the airports asked me if we had just gotten married when she spotted it. I think I said no, it was just a reception, even though it was tempting to say yes. It certainly felt like a wedding to me.