Mehendi designers of North Mada Street stare at uncertainity; want to head home

Every year during the wedding season of April and May, the nook located off North Mada Street opposite Indian Bank would be buzzing with activity.

At least four men trained in drawing mehendi would sit on the platform here to draw mehendi for dozens of brides and their relatives who would land up as early as 3 p.m. to get mehendi drawn on their hands and legs.

The mehendi sessions would go on well past 8 p.m.

However, this year around the same time, the place is deserted due to lockdown. And the mehendi artists who have been doing this business here for over 12 years are struggling to make ends meet.

Says Mahendar Singh, one of the mehendi artists who works in Mylapore, “We used to earn at least Rs.50000 to 1 lakh by drawing mehendi for women during the wedding season. It was the only earning we got the whole year. But this year, we have had no business.”

Our regular clients from Mylapore have been calling us to draw mehendi, but to avoid virus spread, we are not going, he says.

With the government restricting big gatherings at weddings, Mahendar feels that it is unlikely that their business would revive any time soon. “Also, as we have to draw mehendi on hands and legs, we cannot maintain social distancing, so I don’t think we will be allowed to work at least for a year.”

Mahendar is a 30 something old man belonging to Agra who came and settled in Chennai 12 years ago. “I joined a shop in T.Nagar and over the years I learnt to draw mehendi.”

Now, with no business, he says that life has become tough. “I stay at Pallavaram along with my friends in a rented room. Since there has been no business we are finding it difficult to pay room rent, and get food daily.”

So Mahendar wants to go back to his native place and start farming. “But, I ‘m unable to go due to the unavailability of transport facilities. I have registered with the government portal in which we (migrants) were asked to register for going to our native places. But there has been no information on when the trains would be arranged for us.”

“Like me, there are 10 other migrants from Agra, all mehendi designers who want to go back home as soon as possible.”

People who may want to help Mahendar may reach him at 7299061967

  • Picture used for representation; courtesy The Hindu

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