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Mendhi is derived from the dried leaves of the henna plant.

... range of colour of mendhi is limited (orange/reddish-brown and black) it is the design and the location that make it unique and personal.

Increasingly, mendhi is becoming popular without any traditional or religious purposes, as simple, temporary and painless body decoration, like make-up.

Mrs. Chauhan says that the trend is catching up in Fiji, where "everyone, from teenagers to chic upper ladies," is coming in to get the beautiful mendhi designs.

Traditional Indian designs cover the whole hand or foot, but today, most women ask for designs that highlight certain areas and resemble jewellery, like armbands, bracelets, and necklaces.

Mrs. Chauhan, originally from India, was a top student of art in Gujurat but is a self-taught mendhi artist.

She has developed her childhood hobby into a business. Before arriving in Fiji in 1981, she took art courses in India and even mingled with Bollywood celebrities.

Now in Fiji, Mrs. Chauhan proudly displays designs of her own creation, but offers a wide range of designs from Bombay as well. She also does Arabic designs (like the one I got done-also of her own design), which differ from Indian designs.

Indian designs cover the whole hand, whereas the Arabic designs partially cover the hand, from the tip of a finger down to the opposite end.

My design took only minutes to be applied by the amazingly skilful Mrs Chauhan. It was incredible how the marvellous design came to formation and I could tell that the look of satisfaction on my face caused the satisfaction in hers.

"I can never get tired or feel bored," she once said. Knowing her customers are happy makes her happy. And that makes the difference. You can see it in the care she takes in her job.

If you're looking for a different sort of souvenir of your stay in Fiji, head down to the Sogo's on Cumming street in Suva and ask for Mrs. Chauhan.

She is available on Thursday-Saturday and can be found operating out of her own home in Nausori from Monday-Wednesdays.

In addition to mendhi, she offers eyebrow threading, facials, hair styling, treatment and decorations, bridal decorations, and garlands.





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