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46. Mehendi Hands

Artist: Aakriti Agrawal

Benefactor: Cornhusker Bank
Location: Traveling Exhibit

When I first saw the Hands for the Serving Hands Public Art Project, I thought back to my home culture of India and the decorative designs that are generally on the hands that served me growing up – mehendi, or as it’s more commonly known here, henna.


Mehendi is a form of body art where a paste is created from powdered dried leaves and then use to create decorative designs on the hands of women. The designs are usually worn by women (sometimes but rarely worn by men) on their palm and on the back of their hands, where the designs are more likely to be visible and less likely to rub off due to their daily work. 

Mehendi, in Indian tradition, is typically applied during celebration times, such as weddings, but can also be applied on a daily basis as it serves as an antiseptic. 

When I think of serving hands, I think of the people that guide us to be who we are. For me, this reminds me of my mother and grandmothers, who worked hard everyday to keep their houses running, raise their children, and have jobs to sustain their families. In my country, these women would display beautiful mehendi designs on their hands.