Henna, also popularly known as mehndi in the Asian continent, is one of the most popular traditions amongst women in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Henna is the Arabic name for the mignonette tree, a flowering plant, which refers to the dye prepared from the plant and the art of temporary tattooing your body. The henna plant is native to northern Africa, western and southern Asia, and northern Australasia, in semi-arid zones and tropical areas.
For centuries, henna has been to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather. Used mostly as a body art, women in Middle Eastern, African and Asian regions decorate their bodies with henna during wedding celebrations – bridal henna nights is an important tradition in many of these areas. In addition, besides at weddings, women commonly apply henna during Eid celebrations. In some countries, men apply henna for cosmetic purposes as well especially for their hair.
Being a multicultural country where many Middle Eastern, African and Asian cultures collide, henna artists in Qatar, like Bangladeshi Ridita Dilshad, have acquired a wide range of henna art skills, adopting various styles from many parts of the world. Ridita said:
There are a huge variety of designs to choose from. The main types that differ at the core level are Arabic, Asian, Moroccan, Indian and Emirati Khaleeji designs. I show a glimpse of the various types of designs to my clients and let them choose the type they want. Sometimes I do a fusion among different kinds. I usually try not to stick to the common designs. I take idea from different types of arts and designs around me and create something very new. I also try to apply henna on different other things, Henna calligraphy was a part of those trial. I am currently working on making artworks using henna.
Ridita is a henna artist by talent not profession. In fact, she still working on developing her profession as an engineer. Ridita is currently a second year Telecommunication Engineering student at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar.
My studies and work are to build my career and henna is my passion. I utilise my time-management skills to balance between the two…Telecom is what I want to learn more about and Henna is what is already in me. They will be side by side with each other and help me reach my ultimate goal.
In August 2012, Ridita’s Henna was created, which is Ridita’s Facebook page to present her henna designs – not by Ridita herself but by her friend who encourage Ridita to take her talent seriously. Ridita explains:
Last year just before Eid, one of my close friends visited Qatar after a long time; I applied henna on her. She was so impressed that she made a Facebook page named ‘Ridita’s Henna’ to portray my work to everyone and encouraged me to update it regularly. It spread very fast and I was overwhelmed by people liking my page. There were lots of enquiries about people asking me if I was a professional and I turned down a few, but later I thought about it and started designing professionally.
Ridita’s passion for henna art existed years before her Facebook page was created. Ridita said:
Back in 2000, I visited a beauty salon and I saw a lady applying henna; I wanted to do it as well.
Before her Facebook page, Ridita designed henna only on her friends and family including children. Today, Ridita has many clients who reach her through Facebook, email or phone. Some clients come to her with their own designs, which is open to as well.
Ridita has more than 2,000 likes on her Facebook page where she’s created a fan-base in Qatar with her versatile henna designs. How does Ridita market her talent? Simply through her Facebook page and word of mouth from satisfied clients. Recently, Ridita has been gaining media coverage where her designs have been on the covers of Society Magazine, a family magazine published by the Gulf Times newspaper, and Gulf Times.
As a freelance henna artist, Ridita is pretty flexible. Besides her talent as a henna artist, Ridita also has talent in applying eye makeup, painting, sketching and photography.
For more information, visit Ridita’s Henna’s Facebook page.
To contact Ridita, email her at [email protected] or call her at 6616 2018.
Author: Ola Diab