Since first being introduced to henna design at a young age by her Persian relatives, Mangala Bühler-Rose has developed a deep love for the Indian craft. Today, the bhatki artist has transformed her henna passion into her own business called Mehndi NYC, where she adorns her clients in peaceful and traditional designs.
The word Mehndi comes from the Sankskrit mendhikā, which refers to Lawsonia inermis, also known as the henna plant, which grows in the Middle East and Africa and favors dry and hot climates.
“My passion for mehndi comes from when I was little and we used to henna our hair,” said Bühler-Rose. “I just became attracted to the fragrance of the plant itself and using it and mixing it up. It had a lot of positive associations for me.”
The mehndi artist’s passion for the design aspect comes from her attraction to ritual arts, particularly yoga ritual arts. She was fascinated by the designs, motifs and the uses and meanings of the symbols, so when she noticed that henna designs also incorporated a lot of those symbols, she decided to join the two and create Mehndi NYC. She brings her practice to a variety of events and celebrations ranging from weddings, editorial shoots, runway shows, fine arts photography shoots, festivals and even events for corporate companies. She also offers classes in henna design for people who want to learn how to do it themselves.
Bühler-Rose does travel for her henna bookings but tends to concentrate on downtown Manhattan.
“I chose downtown for its art, the galleries, my friends are here and it’s the best place for me,” said Bühler-Rose. “It’s just so culturally rich.”
The artist is dedicated to making her own henna paste for its quality and essential oils; this way she knows that there are no harmful additives. Her paint consists of henna powder, lemon juice, sugar and essential oils, which she then applies to clean skin, drawing a design with her hand-made tools.
“I like my tool a lot because it allows me to have control over the pressure I’m applying and the way that the paste flows,” said Bühler-Rose.
The resulting henna stain starts off on the skin as an orange color but then darkens within a few hours. The henna lasts about a week until it slowly fades away.
Bühler-Rose is also a NYC-based teacher and social worker with passions in human development, yoga philosophy/history, ritual arts and wellness. She has lived in many countries around the world but continues to call Manhattan her home. Her inspirations have come from arts of the yoga and bhakti traditions in Northern India, where she has also lived and studied.
To schedule an appointment or to learn more about mehndi, please visit: www.mehndinyc.com.
By- Kelsey Maloney