CULTURE SHOCK

Life in Queens (the Most Diverse Borough of the Most Diverse City in the World)

Archive for February, 2014


Henna

I’m sure that the majority of you guys reading this are wonder, “What is so special about henna that it deserves a whole post on this blog?”

Well, ever since I was little, the concept of henna as a traditional making has been engraved into my brain. Navratri? You put henna designs on your hands as a supplement to the extravagant outfit you are dressed in to go to Garba (an Indian dance).  Weddings? There is an entire night of celebration dedicated just to having the bride and the females of the family getting their hands and feet tattooed. And in my household, there was always a cone or two left around for my sister and I to do trial experimental designs with.

Henna Art

I remember waking up the next day with crusted mehndi to rub off. My favorite part was seeing the beautiful designs that had been placed onto my hand in a vibrant red or orange color. As a kid, I had even gotten in trouble with my second grade teacher once for “drawing on my hands with marker”. Henna tattoos have been a part of my childhood, and it is a part of my culture and who I am.

It is used in much of Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Middle East for similar reasons as to what my family uses it for. Any celebration is a cause for henna tattoos.

Henna is made out of a plant, which binds to the keratin protein in our skin- which is why it leaves a color. You may be familiar with people putting henna in their hair as well, because it is the safer alternative to hair dying, and actually serves as a conditioner for your hair as well.

Along with being used for aesthetics, henna actually has many medicinal purposes as well. It serves as method to prevent hair loss, and heals open wounds and burns, headaches, and fevers. Some farmers put it on animals as a natural sunblock as well.

I think this plant is one of the most amazing, with so many uses and extravagance. And to think, if it weren’t this blog I may have never known all about the wonderful things it does other than please a bridezilla hoping for a perfect Indian wedding.

So next time you get a henna tattoo at a fair, remember, it is actually good for you! 🙂

 

Valentines Day All Around the World <3

Many people like to say that Valentines Day is just another sappy old holiday in which the businesses selling flowers, chocolate, and candy boom. While that may be true to a certain extent, I’m sure that the outcome of all the fuss is an abundance of happy couples all over the world.

Each country has their own way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. Here in America, there is the widely known concept of date night. Of course there is the showering of chocolates and flowers, and once in a while, someone decides to do something exotic for their significant other that surpasses the general boundary of the idea of Valentines.

Chocolate

 

I remember, ever since I was in middle school, my schools had flower and candy sales for Valentines. By high school, it became obvious that if you were in a relationship, you were bound to receive roses and an embarrassing serenading by member of the schools choir in the middle of class. In my close-knit group of friends, we always decided to surprise each other by little things. Honestly, we turned the holiday into a joke by senior year.

Valentine’s Day actually originated in France, where it was customary to send and receive love letters in the second week of February, because that is when the birds begin to mate.

One of my favorite Valentine’s customs is in Japan. The girls and women make chocolates for every important male in their life, from their father, to brothers, to a significant other. Their are different types of chocolates, each symbolizing the kind of feelings you have to offer the opposite person. In March, they have “White Day”, in which the boys and men who received chocolates for Valentine’s Day return the gift to the women.

England is known for the love of Shakespeare, so it is not found unrealistic or particularly surprising that the British decide to convey their love and feelings through the use of sonnets and other script writing.

In Canada and South Africa, there is never a time not to celebrate, and Valentine’s Day is just as good a day as any other. They have balls and in some areas, week long parties. In South Africa, these celebrations are called Lupercalia. This event requires young girls to pin the names of their lover on their sleeve.

The most outrageous tradition of all comes now. In Scotland, it is said that the first person you see on the street is your Valentine. How weird would it be to spend Valentine’s Day with a complete stranger?

Well, that said, I hope everyone has an amazing Valentine’s Day! 🙂


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