Every Eid and during weddings women in Mombasa adorn their hands with floral henna patterns, some with the black dye and others natural henna.
In Mombasa, there are henna artist who do the henna designs around town but the most common place is called Bin Sidiq center on Bawazir Lane. There are few salons located inside the shopping arcade that primarily do henna art. In addition, you can find a few on Facebook where you can see samples of their work before you visit them and book online.
The designs depend on status, for little girls normally a small simple design pattern suffices. For a single girl, the art goes just up to the wrist of the hand whereas for married women it is not restricted.
It is believed that a woman must always adorn her hands with henna to look beautiful for her husband so that whenever she is with him, he sees the beautiful and colourful artwork.
The price starts at 300 kshs for a smaller design i.e to the wrist and the higher the design on the hand it goes the higher the price. Bridal designs are different from the other designs because it is the bride’s first night with her husband she has to look extra beautiful.
Different cultures have specific designs; you can Indian design Mehndi or United Arab Emirates Khaleeji style, also Sudanese black dye style.
The process includes mixing the henna powder with water, and the designer puts the wet henna in a cone which is used to draw with. Once the henna is applied on your skin, you wait for about forty five minutes to one hour for it to dry.After that, you just peel off the dried henna and normally you are advised not to touch water for 6-8 hours so the henna can darken preferably overnight. These days henna is mixed with a thinner which speeds up the process of drying.