Last week when I went to my friends house all of the married ladies in the house were in the process of their usual henna routine. They asked if I’d like some. Sure!
Being a single lady I’m only allowed to have one hand done. The married ladies do both hands and both feet. It’s this mud type stuff they put on. You keep it on until it’s mostly dry. Which for me was about an hour and a half. But I’ve heard people leave it on overnight. The ladies just sit there, chatting, touching up, napping, and awkwardly taking sips of juice. Then you re-do it the next day so that it goes from dark brown to opaque black. I only got the one coat.
|This is the henna for special occasions–engagement parties, weddings, etc.|
There is a lot expected from the typical lady as far as beauty routines go. This applies mostly to married ladies. (With the exception of ladies who are about to be married in which the beauty routines are outta control).
They’re expected to have fresh looking henna on both hands and feet always. So that’s 4.5-5 hours every two weeks or so. They also do this thing where they sit for an extended period of time over a smoke hole with a thick blanket wrapped around them. Then they do the same thing with incense so that they literally have the stuff steeped into their pores. They go to the salon to get their hair braided, plaited, prettyfied. They wax their arms and legs. They do this thing with thread to get all of the teeny tiny hairs off their faces.
So, married ladies spend lots of time staying pretty and smelling nice for their husbands. Though, generally, the more well off the family is the more time and money they have for these things. There is a bit of a scale based on social class.
It is motivated by fear for some of the women. They feel they need to put in all of this time and effort to keep their husbands from divorcing them or taking a second (or third, or fourth) wife. It’s quite sad, really. That for many their sole purpose is pleasing their husbands.
Thankfully as a single gal and as a foreigner I can get away with much less. I fall on the super low maintenance side of the spectrum for these sorts of things so it takes a certain amount of emotional effort to even paint my toes. Which I do, but only if I feel like I have to (aka wedding or important event). A different mindset, indeed.
But it’s cool to share in their culture. I have gotten some attention for the henna. The other day in the market an older lady stopped me and grabbed my hand, smiled, looked at me and said “This is ours!” I nodded yes, she said it again, then I said that my local friend did it for me. She seemed very pleased. Then a few of the teachers at school and some of the staff at the center have noticed it and been like, “What is that?!” They seem pleased and somewhat amazed. Foreigners don’t generally have this type of henna. It’s nice. Though, I am mildly concerned that people in the states when I come home in just over a week are going to wonder what strange finger disease I’ve picked up. 🙂