Here in the Midwest I am blessed with experiencing all the seasons of the Earth in full force. We have a cold and snowy winter, the raging waters of spring, a hot sunny summer, and the beautiful colors of fall. I love all the seasons, but maybe the fall the best… or maybe that is just what is passing now. As flowers and leaves open and fall to the ground, birds fly through the sky, stopping sometime to visit on their migration to warmer waters. Color burst forth from the plants and nature living all around me. I store it away in my heart for the upcoming white of winter.
Flock of Hansa – Geese Migration
Hansaseeya and Alapadma – Geese and Lotus
Celebrating my Hindu heritage, I also burst out in colorful Odissi costumes with my students to stomp, pose, and dance for the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Kali. I cannot resist applying color to my cheeks and lips, kajol to line my eyes, jewels and metal to adorn, and bells around my ankles. Celebrating good over evil, light over darkness, thanking the great spirits of our universe for good luck and the fortune of this beautiful life I have been gifted.
Adorning Shidoor and Bindis – Mirror Pose
Adorning Shidoor and Bindis – Mirror Pose
The thing I love most about dancing Odissi is sharing a mystical world with my audience and students. My favorite dance always have and probably always will be those depicting my belief in the mysterious powers of the universe. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer, chanting, and celebrating our appreciation for the universe and the life forces that share our journey. This summer I am focusing my performances on these feeling and sharing two dances with my audiences: Mangalacharun an invocation dance for Lord Gonesh who helps us to remove obstacles from our path and Dashavatar the first piece of epic Geet Govinda by Sri Jaya Dev thanking Vishnu for protecting us and describing him and 10 of his incarnation. Both of these dances were originally choreographed by the late great Guru Kelucharun Mohapatra and taught to me by his student and my Guru Sangeeta Mahapatra Kar and I feel extremely blessed that through my guru’s and parent’s love I learned these dances that originate from other side of the planet in which I live, that are now directly part of my immediate world.
The exact translation of this mudra is half-flag. I am not sure that this is the same as flying a flag at half-mast to allow “the invisible flag of death” to fly at the top of the mast, but the significance to death’s presence, power, and prominence cannot be ignored as everything that lives must also die. It reminds me of the importance for us to have virtous thoughts while passing to the other side and to help those passing around us to find calm, quiet, and strength. May practice prepare us. My favorite usage of this mudra is to show the banks of river Yamuna, where Krishna hides the clothes of a gopi (milk maid) who is bathing in the river. Interestingly, Yamuna is the daughter of the Sun God, Surya and sister to Yama, Death. It is said that bathing in Yamuna, who is a holder of infinite love and compassion, can free one from the torments of the relm of her brother, death. Arda Pataka is also used to show the leaf panels that were used to write the Vedas when finally they were transferred to written form. It is also used to represent a knife or dagger.
The literal translation of this mudra is three parts of a flag. As I reflect on this I am reminded of many things with three parts; a story or sonata, an atom, our government, the brain. My favorite uses of this mudra are to show the tree of life, the crown of Lord Vishnu (who is also part of a trinity with Lord Bramha and Lord Shiva), and flames rising from a ritual fire.
So I am super happy and having fun making small fresh batches of henna for the Madison Eastside Farmers Market and other wonderful events where I am able to share my henna designs and art. Making henna can be a little messy, but smells great and is not too hard to accomplish if you have the right desires to do so.
I pick a perfect bowl to do my mixing, a mixing utensil (for some reason metal is not recommended), and got my creative juices going to figure out a recipe to mix up. There are many tea options that people use to hydrate their henna powders (organic and body art quality powders finely sifted are all that I will use). Some people like coffee, others a tea, maybe cloves or other secret ingredients. You also need a nice acid to break up the henna fibers so they will release dye, I like to use lemon juice. It can take 24-48 hours to break down the henna plant to release dye. Each powder is slightly different so making henna a few days in advanced of when you will use it is best. A nice essential oil to assist in that process and to invigorate wonderful smells into your henna is also a plus. Some of the oils I have seen recommended are cajeput, tee tree, and lavender. Lastly a sugar helps the henna in the drying process to have a nice “crust”. I like to use maple syrup cause nature made it perfectly already. Add a bit of liquids and then stir, stir ,stir… continuing the process till you have the consistency you like to work with, the set it aside so the mixture can make its magic.
I have been hand rolling cones of a mylar like consistency for using with my henna. It keeps me using my henna in a few weeks also as the acids can potentially break down the cone or any dyes on the mylar, so less dyes the better here also. Filling the cones is probably the messiest part of the job, but so worth it. I usually use a make shift pastry bag to fill the cones. Make sure to push the initial dollop all the way down to the tip of the cone before filling it completely. Then enjoy!
I am starting a wonderful new adventure inspired by my favorite online henna artist Maple Mehndi. I will be promoting and sharing my henna and henna art work at the Madison Eastside Farmers market every Tuesday from 4-7pm. This wonderful neighborhood market will be a place where my clients can receive henna treatments and buy the henna I am making in fresh small batches weekly. I am keeping my henna simple using only lemon juice, maple syrup, and cajeput essential oil to mix with organic and body art quality henna powder. Clients need not worry about chemical dyes and other undisclosed ingredients that can be found in many henna products. I will also be promoting classes and other henna services, as well as my ceramics and artwork that are inspired by Indian design.