DMU Arts and Festival management students organised a Henna event last week, through the University’s volunteering organisation Square Mile. Located in Leicester’s Newfoundpool Community Centre, the event allowed professional Henna artists to educate the community and students about the ancient tradition, and to promote this beautiful form of body art.
Fern Beard, one of the organisers, said that she hoped the event would encourage a ‘big knowledge exchange where visitors can be enlightened’, and stressed the importance of understanding these traditions when ‘we live in such a multicultural city’. The students and henna artists had made a fantastic effort to decorate the hall with sari silk, Indian rugs, and provided visitors with hot drinks and homemade samosas. Within a few minutes of being there, the welcoming students and warm atmosphere had already encouraged numerous visitors from the street. According to Fern, the students had also made a considerable effort in promoting the event to the community through social media and posting flyers through doors.
Tina’s Mehendi, one of the henna artists, explained that the tradition spanned back to ancient Egypt spreading to Tunisia and through the Middle East, and remains an extremely popular art form in various cultures today. Tina’s practised henna as a child, using the traditional method of a stick or a pin to make the lines and shapes. ‘I used to spend hours doing it’, she smiled. Tina’s became a qualified henna artist when she studied with Ash Kumar, a renowned professional in the art form, with an artist agency in London and New York, and a Guinness world record for the fastest henna. Now Tina’s runs her own business through a henna bridal service, alongside doing charity events, school fayres, and working with the disabled- ‘it puts a smile on their faces’, she described. Tina’s explained that not only is henna beautiful and decorative but it also has cooling properties, which has a calming effect on brides. She also revealed that ‘the warmer your blood, the better the colour’.
Not only did the event educate the community in this Indian tradition, but visitors also had to opportunity to receive free henna from the artists. It was a great way of bringing together different people through learning and creativity, and overall the event was a success.