Morning Sun
  • Mahendhis pave way for Diwali

  • It is a common misconception to call what the Indian Student Association has been doing this week as “henna tattoos.” But that’s not quite right.

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  • It is a common misconception to call what the Indian Student Association has been doing this week as “henna tattoos.” But that’s not quite right.
    First of all, it’s not technically a tattoo because pigment is not placed underneath the skin, rather on the top of the skin. Second of all, henna is the type of pigment, but the skin decoration is called mahendhi (also mehndi or mehendi).
    Either way, students have been lining up this week for mahendhis.
    “It has cultural value to us,” said Prashant Agnihotri, business graduate student. “Most Indian girls get it before they are married and get a tattoo on both hands. It has its own charm and value. It’s good for the skin, too.”
    There is an Indian tradition for new brides that says the darker the skin pigmentation of the mahendhi, the stronger the new marriage.
    The ISA is offering the skin decorations all week from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Pittsburg State Oval. The mahendhis, which the ISA is offering for $10 as a fundraiser for the club, fade after about 20 to 30 days.
    Agnihotri said some men also get the henna treatment. He said he gets it placed on his scalp, where it helps to dye the hair and cool the head for about two months before fading. He said the mahendhis have been quite popular with PSU students.
    “It is an Indian tradition that keeps us different from other cultures,” Agnihotri said. “It keeps us significant as Indians. People come by and they are like ‘Oh my God, they’ve got henna.’”
    The mahendhis also serve as a way to get people excited about the ISA’s upcoming Diwali celebration.
    The ISA will host Diwali from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Parrott Bey. Diwali has become one of the biggest events put on by international students every year.
    This year’s event will feature both traditional and Bollywood dancing, Indian food, an Indian bazaar, door prizes and fireworks.
    Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is culturally significant to three religious groups in India: The Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains.
    According to information provided by the ISA, Hindus celebrate Diwali as a homecoming of sorts for Lord Rama, who had returned from a 14-year exile and a victory over the demon king Ravana. When Lord Rama returned, it was the night of a new moon, so the people of the capital city, Ayodhya, lit lamps and candles for Lord Rama’s return.
    But there are other reasons for celebrating Diwali.
    “Historically, we pray to the goddess which we call Lakshmi,” said Rachiyta Raina, business graduate student. “Especially for those in business, it’s to pray for success and happiness.”
    Page 2 of 2 - ISA officials are expecting more than 320 people to show up for the event. Tickets are $10.
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.

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