West doesn’t restrict henna to hands: artist Ash Kumar

April 24th, 2008 - 11:06 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Abhishek Bachchan
By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Britain-based Ash Kumar, the world’s fastest henna artist whose global clientele includes Julia Roberts, Calvin Klein and Austin Reed, says people in the West are ready to get henna art done on any part of the body. “In India, people have just begun to realise that they can experiment with henna on places other than the palm. But in the West, their entire body is like a canvas,” Kumar told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.

The artist has been invited to India by Swarovski to create bespoke designs for the Swarovski Runway Rocks show held in Mumbai Wednesday.

Kumar, 27, has the distinction of being titled the world’s fastest henna artist by the Guinness Book of World Records. His designs are on permanent display at London’s Royal Victoria and Albert Museum.

Kumar rose to fame in 2001 after creating his first Guinness record by painting 96 henna armbands in an hour. Later, in 2003, he broke his own record by creating 167 henna armbands in one hour, each with a unique design.

Kumar feels that although people in the West are fascinated by henna art, “they are still unaware about the therapeutic benefits of henna as well as how to enhance its colour”.

Contrary to popular belief that the fragrance emitted by henna is too pungent for Westerners, Kumar says “the smell of henna is very soothing for them”.

On being asked about the difference in preference of henna designs, Kumar said: “Indians still prefer the traditional way of applying henna and mostly pick designs that match their outfit.

“In the West, people prefer simpler and abstract henna designs topped with glitter, sparkles and sometimes even semi-precious stones. I use Swarovski crystals too.”

He said that while “in India people opt for intricate henna designs, people in the West go for more bold, clear and visible designs”.

He mentioned that just as henna is considered auspicious during weddings in India, it is also gradually making its presence felt at marriage ceremonies abroad as well.

Kumar’s work has also featured in many Bollywood films like “Devdas”, “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”, “Kal Ho Naa Ho” and “Hum Tum”.

Among Bollywood stars, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan are a few who have sampled Kumar’s unique approach to henna.

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