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Mehndi: A Lucrative Business
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MehndiMehendi has been quite exploited for its promotional value. Restaurants and food festivals offer free mehendi application as an added attraction. A few years back Seasons, the clothes super store, was hosting mehendi contests during the Marriage season. And even the Citywalk shoe store advertisement read, `While you decorate your feet with your choice of shoes, we decorate your hands with the colours of mehendi FREE`.

The Indian market has now started experimenting with the concept like the introduction of the temporary mehndi tattoos for the arms, nails, ears or forehead.

There is also an addition to the charm of mehndi known as the `Arabic Mehndi`, by which, the regular red mehendi, which can be outlined with black mehendi and silver or gold mehendi for filling up the designs with (some may consist of chemical dyes). These patterns are very much in vogue now and are catching up even in the west. Shahnaz Abdulla Hussaini, a professional mehendi artist says," People expect special mehendi ingredients for the best colour, and professionals like us to finish fast. The elite class and film personalities like to experiment with designs and areas of application. I have applied mehendi on entire arms, the lower back, cheeks and around the neck," she says.

Shahnaz belongs to an informal group of mehendi professionals -- men and women who help each other make new customers. There is one also Maheshbhai, the best in this group, who specializes, in bridal mehndi. Recently he applied mehendi for a top Bollywood actress on the occasion of her wedding reception in the city.

For bridal mehendi, the Gujarati and Marwari styles depict entire baraats on the bride`s hand with the wedding couple, doli, kalash, baraatis, tabla players, elephants and peacocks too. The Mughlai and Arabic styles are not as minute. They have enlarged curvy floral designs with thick outlines. Prices for application vary from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000 or more for the bride and Rs 75 or more per hand for others. Says Bhavna Rane, a mehendi artist, " A good mehendi artist can earn up to a lakh in a month. This is such a lucrative business that I`m planning to induct my daughter into it too."

In the last couple of years- after Madonna sported it in her music album `Ray of Light`, the mehndi has evolved into an art form at the international level and people have been capitalizing on it. Various foreign countries have music albums on the subject, countless design books in the market and secret colouring formulae sold for hefty amounts.

MehndiMohammed Ismail who runs a mehendi store at Bori Mohalla, Mumbai says, " I used to get more than 1,000 customers daily during Ramzan. Our 100-year-old family profession has come a long way, from selling the standard dry powdered mehendi during festivals only, to now supplying a wide variety constantly. Ismail also has many customers taking kilos of mehendi abroad where it is quite expensive.

As we can see, the wonderful and innovative world of henna art and design combines the fusion from Indian to Arabic and Moghul designs. Thus, being a part of the temporary tattoo industry can prove to be the most fun and interesting jobs any person can have. So, if you have it in you...go ahead and take a plunge in this lucrative market!

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Mumbai Gets Tattooed..Mehndi: A Lucrative ..
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