Holt residents learn about Henna, Indian culture

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Those in attendance show off their Henna tattoos. Click the image for a closer look. Photo credit: Drew Dzwonkowski

By Drew Dzwonkowski
Holt Journal staff writer

Holt residents of all ages sipped tea and gave each other Henna tattoos while learning about Indian culture on Saturday at the Holt-Delhi public library. The event began at 2 p.m. and lasted for two hours. Around 40 Holt residents packed the Delhi Township Conference room, eager to learn more about an unfamiliar culture – and get tattooed in the process.

“This whole henna thing is new to me,” said Joanne Yinger, an interior designer and Holt resident. She spoke while applying an intricate Henna design to the bottom of her foot. “It’s so much easier to learn in person than to read it out of a book.”

The one doing the teaching was Anshu Varma. Varma, a native of India, ran the event and gave a short lecture on Indian culture and applying henna. “When you apply Henna, it will have a cooling feeling on your skin,” said Varma. “Any reason is a good reason to do henna. It’s relaxing. It’s like having a girl’s night out.”

The event's youngest Henna student, at five months old. Photo credit: Drew Dzwonkowski

The event’s youngest Henna student, at five months old.
She explained that the art of henna tattoos began in countries with hot climates. Ancient cultures in countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would apply Henna to their hair in the afternoon to dye and condition it, and simply for the cooling effect. Now Henna survives not only as a popular past time, but as a bridal tradition.

 

“Henna night is a very important part of the wedding celebration,” said Varma. “Food, dancing, henna. While the henna is still on, the bride doesn’t have to work. She just has to work the rest of her life!” said Varma.

The event has been popular in Holt for ten years now, in some shape or form. In previous years it was held in the summer as part of a teen reading program, outdoors in the city pavilion. But due to popular demand, the library has opened the event to a wider range of attendees.

Lyons, left, tries on a sari with the help of Varma, right. Photo credit: Drew Dzwonkowski

“We had so much demand from people of all ages,” said head librarian Cheryl Lyons. “We thought, ‘Let’s just do one in the winter for all ages.’”

Events like this have been generating interest in the library.

“We do a lot of different lifestyle type programming,” said Lyons. “We pick programs based on what books are checked out.”

“I think libraries are the greatest thing, seriously,” said Holt resident Fran Roth. “I love libraries, I love librarians, I love books. I think this whole event has been great.”

The library has a number of upcoming events with similar buzz, including a beekeeping event next year.

Anshu Varma can be reached at 517-775-7220
Cheryl Lyons can be reached at 517-694-9351

Roth was proud of her intricate design. Photo credit: Drew Dzwonkowski

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