The mehndi art that till a few years ago was a ritual of sort confined to occasions such as wedding, teej, karva chauth etc. has more or less become a fashion statement today.
Thanks to the easy availability of mehndi artists, who can now be seen in almost every market of the tricity, running their makeshift ‘shops’ from the corridors and pavements.
The business, however, is not everyone’s cup of tea as only those who can draw on paper are most likely to do well in this avocation.
Like in any other street business, majority of the mehndi artists too are migrants from UP, Rajasthan, Himachal, etc. Their number in the tricity has gone up exponentially over the years.
Their clientele mainly comprises women of all age groups.
These artists are most sought after during festivals like karva chauth, teej, raksha bandhan. They have become an inseparable part of weddings. A single bridal mehndi package can fetch these artists as much as Rs 11,000.
Raman (18), an artist, who hails from Rajasthan and runs his business from Sector 22 market near Kiran Theatre, said, “On normal days we charge Rs 50 to Rs 100 per hand and on an average daily earning is around Rs 500. Girls nowadays prefer Arabian and coloured mehndi designs.”
Another artist, Sanjay (24) said, “I inherited this business from my father. Marwari designs from Rajasthan are much in demand in Chandigarh.”
Sumit Rathore (25), an artist in Sector 7, Panchkula, said, “I hail from Uttar Pradesh and have been a part of this business for 18 years now. I studied up to Class 9 and becoming a mehndi artist was my personal choice.”
Vinod Kumar (33), who came to Chandigarh from Saharnpur in UP to earn a living, said, “It has been 18 long years since I chose to do what I am doing. Applying mehndi is what I love doing and it has also become a source of income to sustain my family.” He learnt the art from his elder brother.
Sanjay Sharma (58) came to the city from HP about 30 years ago. “With dreams in my eyes, I came to Chandigarh. I studied up to BA second year through correspondence and then decided to start earning. I gave a try at mehndi art and it worked. I have seen the transformation of Chandigarh from a sleepy city to a fashion-conscious modern city.”