Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beautiful Fingers

The other day we were driving to the other side of Hyderabad for lunch. As we paused at a red light, I glanced over and saw a Muslim woman sitting beside her husband on a motorcycle. She was wearing a complete burkah with only her eyes and her fingers visible.

And the back of each one of her fingers was covered with ornate markings which looked like tattoos. I later found out that they were traditional markings that would wash off.

But still. I remember thinking, Here's a woman who just wants to be beautiful and the only part of her body she can reveal in public is her fingers. And so, she makes them as beautiful as possible.

And then, the light turned green and we drove deeper into the heart of the city.


Anonymous said...

You call it mehendi- the ornate design on the hands and fingers.The design is made by paste prepared from the leaves of mehendi which is a thorny bush.Decorating with mehendi is an essential custom during marriages and festivals for Muslims as well as Hindu

Steven James said...

Thanks for the info on mehendi. I meant no disrespect with my observation of the woman wearing the burkah. What struck me was the contrast between a woman's desire to be beautiful and the way one religion tries to make women into less than they are. "You aren't supposed to look at a woman in a burkah," one of my hosts here in India told me. "The Muslim men want you to treat them like they're not even there." Our world already has enough invisible people. We don't need any more.

SirMax said...

I was introduced to your blog by Mark Lee (from Third Day) www.marklee.typepad.com.

I have been reading all your entries and love your insight. My comment to this is while in Ramallah this past October I noticed that all the ladies clothes shop had the most ornate and beautiful dresses I had ever seen. I was told that the women wear these underneath their burkah. We just all really want to be beautiful. You are correct.