A = Alta

It’s finally here my first A to Z blogging challenge and I am super-excited! My theme for the challenge is Indian weddings and I request you all to join the celebrations 🙂 

ॐ श्री गणेशाय नमः

Let the festivities begin

Alta, a red dye, is considered to be one of 16 elements of make up also known as solah shringar. It symbolizes fertility and prosperity and constitutes an essential component of the Bengali bride’s make up. Alta is used to adorn the hands and feet of the Bengali bride. In fact, all married women from West Bengal are expected to wear alta on the occasion of any religious festival or wedding. As a child, I remember my mother putting alta with the help of a swab of cotton wrapped around a thin stick before Durga Puja. We would watch fascinated (and clamor to be similarly treated) as she put her foot on a newspaper and brush the color around her feet. But she didn’t color her hands – instead she would put a dot on the base of her hand to complete the ritual.

Traditionally made from betel leaves, alta is believed to have a cooling effect. Alta stains and dries quickly. Mehendi or paste prepared from henna leaves is the preferred decorating agent particularly in North India. But nowadays, brides from all parts of the country regardless of tradition prefer to decorate their arms and feet with mehendi in an elaborate custom.

Mehendi decoration of bride
Bridal mehendi

In some parts of India, before entering the house of her in-laws, the new bride steps into a plateful of alta and then walks ahead with her right foot first leaving imprints of her feet on the floor of her house. This symbolizes the entry of Devi Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, into her new home along with the bride.

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Quote for the day: What you’ll need most is courage. It is not an easy path that you’ve set your foot upon:- Larry Wall

For more information about the blog please click here and for the readers of Moonshine, here’s Chapter 49.