History – Hollywood – Henna!
Used for thousands of years since early Egyptian times, it was modern day celebrities like Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Jenna, Rihanna and Beyonce who have catapulted Henna into the limelight making it a must-have accessory all year round.
Henna surpasses all cast, creed and boundaries. Designs can be both traditional or contemporary, from vines and flowers to tribal and Celtic. It truly is used in celebration by all. As well as the traditional uses, such as alluring bridal skin decoration, Henna is now widely used as part of western hen parties, even Henna blessings for the mother-to-be, where beautiful designs are applied to the baby bump using safe, natural Henna.
“I am blessed to be able to share my talent and find the practice of my Henna sacred in more than one way” Binder Tohani
Professional Henna Artistry
Binder Tohani has held Henna workshops in Canada, England, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.
She has attended International Henna conferences around the world and has been asked to teach at the Henna conference in Toronto with her specialist subject of symbolism within Henna art.
“My creative journey has enabled me to be involved with fashion and beauty shows local & abroad, music festivals, corporate and charity events, the International Indian Film Fare Awards, styling shoots with Bollywood stars and I have showcased two Henna Runways in the pioneering, progressive & popular ‘Belfast Alternative Fashion Week’ hosted by Artistic Entrepreneurs Shelley Rodgers and Kieran Sherry which is part of their business ‘World Equal’ in 2016 and 2019. This was a fantastic platform to exhibit my artistic flare as I got to showcase Indian fashion and Henna inspired body art, bringing it to a wider audience. I am so happy to be working with them in 2020 creating more aspiring looks”.
Who Is Binder Tohani?
Binder Tohani is a self-taught International Certified Natural Henna Artist and an accomplished hair and make-up artist. Binder started her artistic journey over 22 years ago, travelling both within the UK and internationally, creating bespoke services to suit her clients.
Her core passion lies within both the Asian and Irish bridal makeup and hair industries. Her in-depth knowledge of brides’ requirements, cultural expectations of different religious and traditional ceremonial practices makes her a unique talent in Northern Ireland where she has been based for several years.
“I always had an artistic flair growing up as an Indian girl in Yorkshire and this was brought to the fore later in life through the practise of Henna Art. For me it’s not only a form of body art, it’s about the beautiful connection you have with the individual whilst applying the natural Henna. The earthy smell of Henna and essential oils, the visual creative aesthetics of each design, the power of positive energies and touch, the secrets you hear and share with each session, and the beautiful happy words spoken with every exchange makes it a truly sensory experience. It’s not only therapeutic to watch but can be very relaxing. No client walks away without a smile; I feel they walk away with a part of my artistic expression, and that is the biggest joy”.
The Hidden Romance of Henna & The Art of Love
Henna is surrounded with mystical folklore and traditions which Binder loves sharing during application. Amongst the craziness of organising Asian weddings, the Henna ceremony would be the first time the bride would sit to reflect mindfully that she is actually getting married.
Binder would discretely hide the initials of the groom within the intricate bridal Henna designs on the palms. Back in the day, the wedding night would have been the first time the bride and groom met, and the excitement of the groom having to find his own initials was a prelude to the connection soon to ensue.
Henna is very aesthetically alluring, akin to functioning like an aphrodisiac to both women and men and is even mentioned in the ‘Kama Sutra’- The Art of Love.
It enhances the union of two souls and is symbolic of feelings of love and joy and longing. The depth of the colour of Henna on the bride’s hands signifies the depth of love the groom has for his bride and in some communities, it shows how much the bride’s mother-in-law loves her. Whatever the case, the pressure is on the Henna artist to ensure the best quality of Henna is applied which is safe, natural and intense in colour.
Binder Tohani’s Henna History
Ever since she can remember Binder has always been creative. From drawing, crafts, art projects at school to locking the door and trying on her mother’s make-up and saris before she got home from work. Binder would spend those precious moments practicing the art of tying a sari, and applying makeup.
Heavily influenced by Bollywood at an early age she loved to re-create makeup looks, and loved to dance and follow Indian fashion icons. It was a trip to India when she was 16 years old, attending the wedding of a close relative that she fell in love with the art of Henna,
a practice integral in the Indian culture. The Indian local artist was decorating the bride with the Henna paste and it was the best that she’d ever seen.
The artist’s hand held the cone whilst the Henna paste effortlessly danced and fell in the exact places on the bride’s hand, and as the patterns emerged the exquisite art was breathtaking. Binder was hypnotised by the effortless skill and concentration of the artist, something deep inside her was moved – a desire to learn, a secret wish to practice henna art.
“Somewhere in my sub-conscious the emotions it stirred at the time stayed with me”.
Coming from a traditional working-class Indian household where education was paramount, she had a duty to complete her degrees and enter the corporate world and have a ‘proper job’, so woe-betide she wanted to be a Henna artist. It wasn’t until years later when she was completing her 4-year Business Degree that in one of her lectures she started to draw on her hand with a black pen.
The simple doodle grew and grew until it became a decent looking intricate Henna inspired design. Looking at the piece of art she had created, she received some very positive reactions from other students. She found that emotion and desire to practice Henna rose to the surface, and has since remained a core part of her identity ever since. Binder was hooked. Makeup, hair and Henna artistry remained passion.
Binder has provided this beautiful service for mostly Asian brides throughout the years at weekends all while working full time in the corporate world. There was always time to practice and apply Henna on friends and family and it gave her great joy to practice it safely.
Natural and Safe Henna Ingredients
Henna is from a plant called ‘Lawsone Inermis’ and is grown in hot countries. The leaves of the plant, are dried, crushed into a powder and mixed with a combination of lemon juice, water, lavender oil and sugar into a paste which is then applied to the skin for its’ natural dying properties. Natural Henna will only ever be brown in colour. Black Henna must be avoided as it contains PPD, a hair dye chemical which is very dangerous for the skin.
Unlike a real tattoo, Henna only stains the top layers of the epidermis and each design can last between 1-3 weeks. Henna has been traditionally used in South Asian and African weddings for centuries as a ceremonious beauty tradition where Henna is applied to the hands and feet of the bride and her bridal party. The west has embraced the use of this natural plant, which leaves an orange to dark brown hue on the skin.
Original, Specialised & Home Made with Aphrodisiac Traits
Binder Tohani is one of a few elite Henna artists in Ireland who are certified and apply 100% natural Henna made by her and not purchased from the internet.
“I am passionate about teaching the safe and natural practice of Henna which has brought me and my clients immense joy over the years. Bridal Henna takes hours of patience to apply but the process creates a powerful result akin to an Aphrodisiac between the bride and groom and a beautiful lasting connection between me and the bride forever”.
From Corporate to Collaborate – The Henna Leap of Faith
“I made the decision to leave my full-time job of many years as a Marketing & Commercialisation Manager for ‘Castle Court’, the largest shopping centre in Belfast at the end of last year to focus on my artistic skills for a while and launch my website. With an array of services on offer, from makeup, hair, Henna and Bollywood themed parties to children’s face-painting, glitter bars, and party pamper packages, I am excited to see what this next chapter will bring. I’m excited to launch my website next month and collaborate with the wider community. Watch this space!”.
Interview by Kieran Sherry
Henna, Makeup & Hair
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07974628193 to arrange an appointment or make a booking.