The Henna Society Conference
By: Liberty Lomonaco ~
Mehndi Madness was so excited to attend 2021 Henna Society conference last November. Founder Krysteen and our youngest Mehndi Madness artist, Pearl, attended and got to participate in classes for beginner and experienced artists. The classes are extensive and focus on a variety of subjects like, design building, appropriately incorporating other cultural styles, mixology, and importantly what is henna cultural appropriation and how the history of henna matters.
This conference is about appreciating henna’s roots in northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, with classes and speakers to discuss what it means to be a part of the henna community. We’ll be looking at what some cultures consider appropriation and why they are speaking up now about other people using their traditions as well as opening up a discussion about our henna biases, fears and ways to improve ourselves to be more respectful of other cultures. Mehndi Madness does our best to respect the traditions and cultures associated with henna and spread that awareness to our customers. We are always looking to grow our knowledge of henna traditions and the best way to uphold respect as well as incorporating our own flare. We’re excited for Mehndi Madness to gain new skills and knowledge of the craft and traditions to bring back and incorporate into our business and designs.
Continuing our henna education at the conference also lets us experience some fun classes on technique and learn new modernist design styles, as well as re-inventing old favorites like vines and trees. Krysteen especially liked the mixology class that went over new methods of mixing henna and new oils that are being used. This is important because different ways of mixing henna can bring out different henna qualities for example, if you want a darker stain, or prolonging the life of the henna mixture before it goes bad. Our sweet Pearl got to enhance her technique and explore the ancient roots of henna as well as see what new styles she could pick up.
Make an appointment with Mehndi Madness now to take advantage of our new skills and knowledge in design work and community!
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
By: Liberty Lomonaco ~
We are so excited by this novel by Alka Joshi, to see a fictional representation of our career path is heartwarming and encouraging to us at Mehndi Madness and rarely seen.
Alka Joshi was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, and has lived in the U.S. since the age of nine. She has a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of the Arts. The Henna Artist follows seventeen-year-old protagonist Lakshmi, a woman that ran away from her home, family, and abusive husband to find herself in the city of Jaipur as a henna artist to the posh high society of women. After becoming a henna artist to the wealthy, the protagonist is enveloped with their secrets becoming a confidant and has to tread the line between 1950s high society secrets while trying to keep her own from coming to light. In the end secrets can never stay hidden, and in this case that stays true when her husband finds her and brings a surprise that will have her and you on the edge of your seat.
Alka Joshi’s book has been met with great reviews and selected for Resse Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club picked for May 2020 even though the book was just recently published in March 2020. A reason that this book has cultivated such reviews and excitement may be due to the author’s note within the book, that Lakshmi’s character was cultivated by Joshi with her mother in mind. Alka Joshi has mentioned in this note and in interviews that the protagonist is based on her mother and how she thinks her life could have been if she didn’t go ahead with her arranged marriage to a man she met once, which is a common custom in India. Her parents' marriage was arranged by their families in 1955 and her mother was eighteen years old at the time. Alka’s mother was creative and hard working and instilled those qualities in her as well as the belief she could do and be anything. This led Alka to wonder about her mother and what kind of woman she would be if she had grown up with these same ideals. It was with these thoughts that she invented the character Lakshmi, a character “determined to live life on her own terms.” In an interview done by YSWeekender they asked Alka Joshi, “What did you enjoy the most while writing this book?” She responded with, “I enjoyed using my imagination to invent Lakshmi’s world — an alternative life for my mother in which she is in charge of her own beautiful, ambitious destiny and it was such a pleasure. I loved living in Lakshmi’s world with the characters that inhabit it. I was tasting the food she hand-fed to her clients, the elite of Jaipur, and I experienced the cooling effect of her henna designs on my hands.”
Mehndi Madness believes in the freedom to determine one’s life for themselves and to live a happy existence. To see that same message in a context where the protagonist is a henna artist is important to us since the choice to be a henna artist isn’t always understood. We hope this book opens the doors to others not involved with Indian culture and allows for a dialogue to develop on what it means to be an artist, and a woman.
Mehndi Madness is so excited for this peak into being a henna artist in high class 1950s India, and that the adventure doesn’t stop here. The Henna Artist, is one of what will be a trilogy, the second book The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is out for pre-order now and of course the author is currently writing the third unnamed book. There is also talk that Netflix has picked up the right to turn the book into a TV series that will star Freida Pinto as Lakshmi. Freida Pinto is known for her roles in Slumdog Millionaire and the new Netflix psycho-thriller Intrusion. We hope you will follow Lakshmi’s journey with us at Mehndi Madness!
The rest of the Alka Joshi interview is linked here: https://yourstory.com/weekender/author-alka-joshi-debut-novel-reese-witherspoon/amp