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Issue 41 / My Mehndi Story Lets Your Henna Do All The Talking

My Mehndi Story Lets Your Henna Do All The Talking

Mar 17, 2016


My Mendhi Story is creating a new tradition with a fresh approach to bridal henna.

Henna, or mehndi as it is widely known in South Asia, is an ancient art form popular in South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and a ritual that is still a major part of today’s traditions. In India, women adorn their hands in intricate mehndi designs in celebration of events like Eid and Diwali. Perhaps its most significant role, however, is played during the matrimonial festivities, when the bride adorns her hands and feet in traditional mehndi designs.

While most brides in North America host mehndi parties in the days leading up to their weddings for the sake of tradition, Indian folklore holds a lot of meaning in the darkness of the mehndi stain. The darker the stain, the more your mother-in-law will love you. A dark stain is also a signifier of good luck for the couple and their marriage. Whether you believe in the myths or not, a dark stain is what most strive for, above all else.

My Mehndi Story, a new henna art company in Toronto, is starting to shake up tradition. Led by Romana Kassam, My Mehndi Story, as the title suggests, puts even more meaning into bridal henna. It’s less about traditional lines and designs, and more about telling a vivid and unique story through the art of mehndi.


Romana Kassam working on a client.
Photo Credit: My Mehndi Story 

"Essentially, it's embedding stories of people's lives and their journies and relationships into the actual artwork of the mehndi,” Kassam told me. She says that millennial brides are looking for more customization when it comes to their weddings, and it seemed mehndi had yet to catch up to brides that wanted the tradition, but entirely in their own way.

Kassam likens the ideology behind My Mehndi Story to getting a tattoo. When you get a tattoo, many think the design through, going through different phases before ending with one that is just right. And a lot of tattoos hold meaning behind them, often telling stories and holding messages that only the wearer understands.

Kassam herself is an artist at heart — a fact you’ll know by the very sight of her. Not because she looks like an artist, but because she oozes creativity. It bounces off her like light, and it doesn’t take long to understand the appeal of My Mehndi Story. No one wants to be just another bride, just another generic couple. A wedding is meant to celebrate what makes that couple so special. Why their story is one to be told, hopefully, for generations to come. Kassam wants to tell that story from the very beginning. And she does so through the bride’s mehndi.

“Every love story, every wedding story, is going to be unique,” she says.

Kassam creates custom designs for each couple she works with. They work in tandem in the months leading up to the wedding to ensure the design tells the story in just the right way, sometimes adding song lyrics, logos and drawings among the traditional paisleys and florals.


A custom designed sketch created by Romana Kassam. 
Photo Credit: My Mehndi Story

The process starts off with a questionnaire that asks how the couple met and how they fell in love. It asks the couple to share details of their story that Kassam can then take and embed into the mehndi design.

“For example, this one couple really loved the [Toronto] Raptors. And I think their first date was at a game, and I said 'Could we do a Raptor in your mehndi?’ And she was like, ‘Hell yeah!’” Romana recalls. “So it's like embedding everyday modern life into something that's traditional.”

After the bride gets her custom design, Kassam gifts the couple with a print of the mehndi design that she sketched out. It becomes a nice keepsake for the couple, not just as a reminder of their wedding, but a reminder of the story that led them to their wedding day.

While bridal is currently her focus, Kassam has also been taking her mehndi to the streets, if you will. She’s worked on boudoir shoots, has created artwork using mehndi-style designs, and has even worked with a cancer survivor (something she hopes to do more of in the future).

“I met this woman who is a survivor, but she had just recently lost her hair at the time,” Kassam says. “We were talking about how she doesn't feel pretty . . . To understand that she felt unpretty because of this thing . . . she was doing chemo to help her live longer and stay on this planet, but she felt this way.”


A cancer survivor dons a henna crown created by Romana Kassam.
Photo Credit: My Mehndi Story

Kassam offered to design a crown for her — a beautiful headwrap of flowers and a quote to remind her of her strength. “Just to be a part of that and to be able to help someone feel better about themselves because of something they can't control was probably one of the greatest experiences that I've had with My Mehndi Story thus far.”

My Mehndi Story is currently booking clients in the GTA. You can see more designs and learn more of Kassam’s story by visiting their website.

Main Image Photo Credit: My Mehndi Story

Rosemina Nazarali

Rosemina Nazarali

Author

With a background in Journalism, Rosemina has spent the last several years honing her editorial skills with various online publications. She's a lover of art, from music to film, literature, fashion, and everything in between. Rosemina looks at the beauty industry as it's own art form, as a means fo...

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