Mehwish came to New Orleans from Pakistan via New York. The mother of two, married to a financial advisor who was happy to leave the frenetic pace of the Big Apple for the slower life of the Big Easy, Mehwish brings with her a very special artistic skill. She inks the ancient (as well as some modern) henna designs to the human body; traditionally to hands and feet.
In business in New Orleans for almost a decade, Mehwish is in great demand year round from Indian and Pakistani brides for wedding designs that tend to be very delicate and very complicated. Because that work is so exacting, the procedure is often started two days before the wedding date.
But this coming weekend, she will be available to all at the India Festival taking place in and around the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. Because there has been such demand for her henna decorations at past India Fests with lines that were quite long, Mehwish has figured out how to make the lines shorter by speeding up the application process. To do that she has created a small selection of hand designs that she says will take less than five minutes to complete.
Part of the appeal of henna decoration is that, unlike ink tattoos, henna is not permanent. “Henna will last about two weeks if you leave it on as long as you can before you wash your hands,” Mehwish says. “I prefer that people wait three or four hours.”
The desire for this exotic decoration has crossed all ethnic boundaries and age groups in the New Orleans area young women (and even a few men) from all walks of life are using Mehwish’s services, particularly for special occasion events even Mardi Gras balls.
India Fest 2015 will present an array of other traditional cultural events especially folk and classical dances from Bollywood dance performances to demonstrations of Bhangra and Bharata Natyam. Traditional Indian food will be available from Saffron NOLA, Taj Mahal, Nirvana and Silk Road restaurants, and an international market will also offer gift items.
What: India Fest New Orleans 2015
Where: New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park; admission $5
When: Sunday, March 15, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information contact NOMA, (504) 658-4100