Come Karva Chauth and women get busy to ensure that their look for the occasion is just right. Fabulous saris, amazing jewellery, makeup — there’s a lot that goes into making sure that everything is on point.
Apart from designer attire, the one thing that is of utmost importance in one of the biggest festivals in north India is the mehendi. Whose design was better, whose was darker and who got it done for a cheaper rate – there’s a lot to be considered there. Especially when women end up forking out so much for it. “I wanted a fabulous design without paying too much for it toh main teen din pehle hi lagvane aa gayi hu (I got my mehendi applied three days in advance). Last year, I ended up paying Rs 2,100 because I couldn’t find time beforehand and the rates had skyrocketed. This year, I’m not taking any chances,” says Naresh Rohilla, a resident in West Delhi. But did she not bargain? “Haggle karo toh bahut bura design lagate hain (if we haggle with them, they will make really bad designs) Or it just won’t darken at all. What is the point of that?” she laments.
Areas in the Capital such as Tilak Nagar, Karol Bagh, Hanuman Mandir Complex, and Lajpat Nagar are the hubs for mehendi walas. Every year at Karva Chauth, women flock to these markets to get the best designs at the best rates. As the day comes closer, however, the rates shoot up depending on which area you’re getting it done from and the kind of mehendi it is.
Namita Srivastava, a school teacher, says that she always ends up paying more as she prefers coloured mehendi over the normal one. She adds, “My friends and I always go together, they pay around Rs 500 and I pay around Rs 1,000. It does dent my purse but it also makes me stand out in my group. ”
The rates also depend on how far up your hand the mehendi goes. Sonu, a mehendiwala who sits outside Hanuman Mandir Complex, says that for mehendi that goes up to your wrist, the rate starts at Rs 350, and till your arm, at Rs 500. “Kab lagvaoge? Aaj lagvai toh Rs 150, parso lagvai toh Rs 500 aur ek raat pehle lagvaoge toh Rs 2,100 tak dena padega (When will you get it applied? It will cost Rs 150 if you get it done today, Rs 500 if you get it done day after and if you get it done on the 18th, it can cost you up to Rs 2,100),” he quips.
And when he sees the shock and indignanation , he sheepishly adds, “Madam, do din toh humare hote hain. Baaki pura saal toh aap hi ka hota hai (We just get two days, the rest of the year is yours).”