04 Nov ”I am dreaming of becoming Sweden’s most famous Henna-artist”
Sara Lashari is 26 years old, social scientist student, ticket collector and self-taught Henna artist with roots in Pakistan. Hayati Network has met with Sarah Lashari in a conversation about her hobby as a henna artist, the trends in henna and her perspective on belonging.
Sarah Lashari describes herself as a creative person who loves singing, dancing and painting. During many years she danced the Indian classical dance Kathak and today she expresses her creative sides through painting. Sara Lashari does not only paint candle decorations and paintings, since 2008 she also decorate hands and feet with henna.
Henna has been used primarily in Asia, the Middle East and in Africa for thousands of years to design beautiful patterns on hands and feet. It is also known to have a cooling and antipyretic effect. Henna is a shrubby plant from which you gather the leaves, dry and grind down to later on use as color. Sara Lashari orders her organic henna directly from a supplier in India to ensure that she receives the best quality possible.
Initially, Sarah Lashari was inspired by her sister to start decorating with henna. Together they received a lot of practice during parties and henna evenings that are often arranged in connection with weddings in accordance with for example Pakistani culture. Sara Lashari soon realized she was talented when it came to painting patterns.
-For me, the henna paintings have to do with me having a talent that is appreciated by many thus I want to share it. I love making someone happy at the same time as I want to highlight the fact that we have such beautiful culture and nice traditions in Pakistan.
Today Sara Lashari is inspired by great henna artists, among others Malena Backman.
-She is great! There are so many nice and beautiful pictures on Instagram to be inspired from today, says Sarah Lari who also has an Instagram account named Henna_Stockholm.
The fact that Henna has become a trend also in the western world is old news, it is used as decoration on especially hands. Henna art work is done in, not only the traditional colors black/red, but also in gold, silver and glitter. 90 % of the people visiting Sarah Lashari to get a henna painting are ethnical Swedes who want to indulge in something beautiful and exotic. One of the reasons henna has been discovered and has become trendy also in the western world can depend on that several famous artist such as Madonna, Beyoncé and Rihanna all have appeared in media with henna decorations.
-One of the most popular designs many young people want right now is the so called Rihanna tattoo which is inspired from henna paintings, says Sahra Lashari.
At the same time as people from the western world have caught an interest for henna there are many people with foreign background in Sweden who appreciate experiencing a piece of their own culture. Sarah Lashari is sometimes asked to come and paint henna for examples at bridal showers or company events.
Sarah Lashari is born and raised in Sweden and has a humble approach to her belonging. She describes herself as very traditional.
-I love my culture despite the fact that I have only been to Pakistan a few times. It is a bit strange, whenever I go there I feel like an alien and when I am in Sweden I do not feel like a Swede either. I do not really feel like I have a homeland. But I do not think I need one as long as I am comfortable and feel good, I can be happy anyway.
It has always felt important to Sarah Lashari to preserve the traditions and culture from Pakistan at the same time as it is sometimes difficult balancing with adjusting to the Swedish culture she lives in.
-I have definitely received my strong connection to the Pakistani culture and traditions through my parents who although sometimes are viewed as Swedicized by some people. Being Swedicized does not have to be something negative, even though the word sometimes has that meaning. As long as you do not forget or deny your origin you should be okay.
One key factor when living in a shared culture according to Sarah Lashari is to be able to take the best parts from both worlds and she emphasizes the bits in Swedish culture she appreciates most.
-There are such beautiful norms and attributes among Swedes and the ones I like the most are for example punctuality, politeness, honesty, that you do not brag and that people are down to earth.
Sarah Lashari studies Human Resources at Stockholm University and among her future plans is a permanent job in her field of study and the dream about developing her henna business.
-Within five years I want to have a job that I enjoy and can develop within. I also want to pursue further studies in due time and I am interested in having a business where I help people with conflict management and motivation. I also dream about becoming Sweden’s most well known henna artist.
Dalila Megdiche Mouaid