New Delhi: The allure of 'heena art' used traditionally for skin decoration continues to remain popular in modern times and sees an upsurge during festivals like Karva Chauth, Diwali and Eid.
Way past business hours, the famous Hanuman Mandir Market in central Delhi bustles with life and a certain aroma, all thanks to Karva Chauth- a traditional Indian festival, which has the womenfolk come out here in droves, with of course, their husbands in tow.
The day long festival is celebrated in north India mostly by married women who observe a day-long fast for the longevity of their husbands. They decorate their hands and feet with mehndi, basically a paste that is obtained from the leaves of henna plant.
"I have been coming here for the last 20 years. And, I have seen myself change from a young girl to a bride and to a mother as I have witnessed this place change itself. But, it's the magic of this place which I guess pulls people here, year after year," said Priya, a doctor by profession who travelled all the way from Rajendra Nagar to get 'henna' done on her hands.
While Priya gets her mehndi done, her husband, a fashion designer, patiently waits on the sidelines with their kid and family, flashing big tattoos on both his arms.
The invasion of modernity and tattoo fad seems to have hardly affected the popularity of this old manual art.
"Now, getting mehndi on your hands and feet has become more like a fashion. But, I think it is a good thing. Because, this way, people are at least celebrating their own culture and not forgetting it, and it does good for our business too," says Anita Gupta, who owns one of the many little henna shops dotting the premises.
For some, the festival also provides them a business opportunity.
"I for one wait with bated breath for the arrival of this festival. I have seen it growing up and also seen my parents practice this art. And, I got so hooked on to it that I gave up my studies to pursue it. All designs are in my heads. In fact, sometimes I dream of those patterns," says Anita.
On request Anita shows an album of customers which range from loyal domestic one to foreigners drawn to the "exotic art".
"Today, two foreigners got their mehndi done. And, maybe Indian boys don't do it but foreign males do like a bit of henna design on their hands," says Anita as she flips through an album.