Henna for Well Being

I have noticed Henna  (also known as mehndi) a reddish brown dye made from leaves and used to colour the hair and decorate the body, on the hands of women in art depicting Hinduism and on women from India and always wondered how it was done.

Henna is traditionally used for special occasions like weddings and birthdays in India, the Middle East, Pakistan and Africa but also research says it was something that poor people loved to do as they didn’t own jewellery. and could use it to adorn their bodies.

Our special occasion was just celebrating friendship and having a relaxing morning.

A well traveled friend of the family who has been doing henna since she was eleven years old offered to teach me and some friends how to do it.

For some reason some of my friends thought they would have henna done for them, but were surprised and interested to learn they would be doing the henna on themselves.

She gave us each pre-prepared (but you can make it yourself) henna which came in a little pack, called a henna cone. Only one person in the group had done henna before.

You can buy henna kits in Indian supermarkets, where the henna is already in dispensers that remind one of icing bags, only much more colourful. Online henna kits can vary from $9 to $35 depending on what is in them (they may include henna cones, moisturising oil and patterns).

My friend’s kit was purchased in India on by her mum on her travels. She gave us some photocopy instructions which had descriptions of small movements you can do to create your henna designs. Essentially this means patterns are broken down into smaller movements that you can then build together to make a larger design.


These moves had names like wind humps,  fooffy, wibble leaves, ziggy zoggy, fishbone, buds, flowers, mummies, sprouts, flowers and paisley. Designs we could choose from were Celtic, African, Indian or our own variation of any of these.

I struggled a little at first with the henna cone, but some people used to icing cakes, or just naturally dexterous, had the hang of it straight away. My daughter was a natural arty wizz.

Eventually I did learn to work the henna cone, with some gentle instruction from my friends who had the hang of it more easily.  I didn’t try anything too complicated though as it took my so long just to be able to work the dispenser.

Whilst we were doing the henna we chatted about travel, henna, learning creative things, religion, our countries of birth,  (which included South Sudan and Austria). when some of us arrived in Australia and more.  My friend said she loved that when you are doing henna you can enjoy the company of others without having to speak their language.  She is doing her masters in English as a second language teaching and has done workshops for children ten and above on doing henna.

After we had put our design onto our hands and it had dried for a while, we put some lemon juice onto our design to keep it wet for longer.  This help fix the dye as well.

The dye was orange on our hands straight after, and the next day it darkened to be a light brown.

You can also obtain a henna that is white, which potentially shows better on darker skin, or you can use this henna on the palm of the hands. My friend said the dye turns out differently on different days and different shades of skin.  It can be unpredictable.

My friend kindly let us take our henna dye dispenser home and some people, like my daughter continued to work on her design until her whole hand back and front, from wrist, to fingers to centre of hand were done.  She just loved it. Another participant showed her sister how to do it, and she had a go as well.

She kindly did a little bit of additional henna on to our hands once everyone had done most of the work themselves.

This day was a great bonding exercise for all involved, and a great exercise in self care!  We just enjoyed getting to know everyone in the group  as much as doing the henna.

In this global world, it is lovely to learn about different ways we can connect people through creative practices.  We all gained respect for those amazing henna artists who are able to do these designs so quickly and so well.

 

June Perkins

 

 

The Poet at Play 3 – Working with Metaphors

Find out how I created this first draft

People still
fear
the Trojan horse

Somehow this horse
is a boat
or a truck
full of people crying

It can’t be real
it is just a tool
to make us open
borders

We won’t be fooled
We must protect our
citizens

Oh for a portal to freedom
a falling Berlin wall
and all the Humpty Dumptys
falling down,
down,
down

toppling
from the wall
they installed

Oh for a portal
to compassion
hidden somewhere
in that wall
that is going
up, up, up, up

When will you believe
what you see
is not just a trick
and when will we all
sing a welcome song?

(c) June Perkins

Ripple Poetry

Image by June Perkins

This week I have been playing with metaphors.  Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.

Some metaphors  have been so used that there have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity.   I have to strive for originality.  But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.

I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.

My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside prisons, and separated from their children.

Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be…

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‘Paper Boats’ by June Perkins

Australian Children's Poetry

Paper boats conjure dreams

of petals soaked by

scents of the

ocean.

Traveling boats

float in shadows

people

who have a simple hope

for happy lands,

but white markers sink

in sandy earth

marking graves of people

who cannot resist new germs.

‘Once watched paper boats,’

paternal grandfather says

in Vietnamese

but nobody understands

No translators here.

So shadow puppets dance

for petals

falling from kumquat boughs.

(c) June Perkins

https://ripplepoetry.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/paperboat.jpg

Creative Commons Flickr Geson Ratnow

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World Refugee Day — Educate.Empower.

Encouraging empathy in children through story! Check out some of the books reviewed at the Educate, Empower blog.

Today is world refugee day Refugees are a real, current and terrible problem that we have in our world and possibly one that will get worse if war continues, water rises in low lying islands of the world and famine ravages nations. We need to help educate our children so that they feel empathy towards […]

via World Refugee Day — Educate.Empower.

Ink of Light – Some Highlights

Magic Fish Dreaming

(Image credit: Ian Hallmond)

In May I presented at the Ink of Light Festival, A Writing Festival to empower authors of Baha’i background; this was the first festival of its kind in Australia.

Bahai’s are from a rich diversity of cultural and spiritual backgrounds and this can be expressed in their writing through diverse genres, and approaches.  Festival participants were from Queenslands’  Gympie, Byron Bay, Toowoomba, Redland, Moreton Bay, Brisbane as well as the Solomon Islands, and Wollongong, and Melbourne and Country Victoria.

Speakers focused on fiction with characters who are Baha’is (both detective fiction and junior youth), discussing the processes to creating well  written and researched history books,  spiritual education of youth, print on demand publishing for the Australian Bahai Publications future, poetry, as well as the art of photography and different kinds of creativity and how this can be combined with spiritual expression.

I spoke alongside presenters Boris…

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