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Stylish henna body art for Sallah
Henna is not the same as the permanent tattoos

Stylish henna body art for Sallah

As we all know the Sallah Festival is the time to showcase trendy outfits among our Muslim brothers and sisters. Apart from the show of clothes, one thing that will be outstanding is stylish henna body art among young girls and older women.


Henna is not the same as the permanent tattoos we see on some popular musicians, actors, athletes, footballers, models among others.

There are many differences between henna and a tattoo. As we know, tattoos are permanent and they pierce the skin to carry the ink down to the blood bearing layers of the skin to create a design that is permanent. By contrast, henna is a temporary dye that just sits on the surface of the skin.

Henna tattoos

Henna is a beautiful art that anyone can have. However, in Ghana, it is common within the Zongo communities and it is popularly called ‘leele’. In the Muslim communities around the country and other parts of the world, it is a tradition to have ‘leele’ on the fingers and feet of new brides.


History has it that in the time of Prophet Muhammad, women used it on nails and palms but as time went on, people started using it as decorative art.

Apart from special occasions such as weddings, it can be applied any time depending on one’s mood. There are some who have it every Friday just to look good for Jummah prayers (Friday prayers), birthdays and during festivals such as Sallah and Damba.

Due to its painless application, some people even put henna on their baby’s feet and hands. The patterns, however, can reflect the type of function.

finger designs

Henna comes in only two colours, red and black- red being the original colour. Light skinned brides look good with red henna while the dark-skinned ones with black. Some henna dealers hinted to me that there is a white coloured one that is gradually creeping into the system.

 Henna dye is made from plants and the paste can be applied with many traditional and innovative tools, starting with a basic stick or twig. There are people who use the syringe or a plastic cone similar to those used to pipe icing onto cakes.

coloured lele

When it comes to the designs, a light stain may be achieved within minutes, but the longer the paste is left on the skin, the darker and longer lasting the stain will be, so it needs to be left on as long as possible. To prevent it from drying or falling off the skin, the paste is often sealed down by dabbing a sugar/lemon mix over the dried paste or adding some form of sugar to the paste.

If you want your designs to be very stylish and attractive, then you need to get someone who is good at making henna arts on the skin. If you are interested just visit any Zongo and you will be sorted out. These days, you can find some of the henna designers at popular markets such as Nima, Maamobi, Madina, Ashaiman, Kasoa and Mallam Atta all in Accra.

foot lele

Those in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region can have henna arts at the Aboabo Market or Moshie Zongo. Although it is common to have some family members to do the henna art in most homes in the Northern Region, if you live in Tamale and don’t have anyone to depend on you can go to the Lamashegu Market to get a professional to give you some beautiful patterns.

What you have to know is that henna designs look like accessories on the body, therefore, you don’t have to wear pieces of jewellery all over as it ends up taking away the beauty of the artwork.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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