Diksha Dosaya, a henna tattoo artist who owns Heena Tattoo in Dunmore, brings aspects of her native Indian culture to Scranton. She and her sisters have practiced the art of henna together for as long as she can remember. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration from University of Rajasthan in India. Dosaya moved to the United States from India 10 years ago when her husband, Dr. Rajiv Bansal, started his residency following medical school. They have a 3-year-old son, Vihaan, and live in Dunmore.
Meet Diksha Dosaya…
Can you talk about the traditional aspect of henna?
It’s very auspicious. If there is a wedding or festival, we have to put it on. It’s very lucky. Before marriage, you have to put on henna tattoos. They say that if the color of henna gets dark, your husband loves you; that’s just a saying. We grew up doing henna tattoos at home in India. It’s natural and comes from henna plant. We bring the leaves, dry them and make a light green powder. We put water, lemon and a little sugar in the paste to make the color a little darker, then you have to let it sit 12 to 24 hours. We make cones and put the henna paste in it, then seal it. Then you can make your own designs.
How have you expanded your henna art?
I was on an H4 visa, so I could not work. I was practicing because this is my hobby, and I love to do this. I enjoy putting henna on my hands and feet, especially when I get bored. In 2014, I got my visa so I could work. Some of my friends have a yoga studio (and) asked me to come do henna for their clients. I also take appointments to do henna.
What made you want to grow Indian culture in Scranton?
I like it here. I like the people. They are so nice and know so many things about India. They know about henna tattoos. When people see me, some say my henna is very nice and ask how I got it. One of my friends arranged to find some clients for me. I went to do the henna, and they were so happy. I love to do the henna, and I want people to know more about it.
What else do you want people to know about henna?
Different types of tattoos are well-known, so why not henna? It is temporary. There is no chemical in it. It comes from natural plants, and if you don’t like the design, it will go away in 15 days. If you want a certain design, then 15 to 20 days later you want a different design, you can change it. I want to show people we can do this type of body art. There are no needles, and it’s pure organic. Henna can also have a cooling and calming effect. In India, (it) can be 110 to 115 degrees, so sometimes people will henna on their feet, hands or head to keep them cool. It’s cheap, and it’s colorful. It smells good, and you can put essential oil in it as you put it on so it will give more of a relaxation effect. When you do live art in front of other people, they will feel more relaxed.
What makes you so passionate about doing henna?
I like to do different designs for different people. There are so many various designs with different variations, such as a sun or star. I like to do whatever people like. I love when I am able to do the design they want. That is what gives me a reason to do it. When people come back for a second time, after liking it the first time, that feels good, too.
Is henna art meditative for you to do?
Yes. I feel so peaceful and calm when I’m doing this. I am in my own world. It feels like I’m back in my home country. Sometimes you miss your family, friends or things, so when I’m doing this I feel like I’m back there.
Do you do any other types of art?
Sometimes I’ll practice mandala art, but I’m not that good. It is similar to henna. We do those at festivals. We have a festival called Diwali Festival. I do mandala art in my home on the floor.
Your 3-year-old son has taken an interest in doing henna as well. What is it like blending Indian and American cultures in his upbringing?
He is starting to do henna. Sometimes he grabs the cone and does henna with me. He is bilingual. He knows Hindi and English. We teach him our native language. Outside here, he speaks English. We’re trying to teach him all the traditions. I’m teaching him as much as I can, because when he goes back to India, he will need to know the traditions.
What else in addition to a design on their skin can people take away from getting henna done? Is there a spiritual meaning?
Applying henna can be a deeply moving and communicative experience for both the receiver and the artist. It opens a spiritual connection where a gifted blessing can be received. I want to give them the message that this is an art. It’s also auspicious and will bring you good luck, and good things will come their way. Any time anything good happens in India, they put henna on.
You are working with a start-up business called Om Indian Handy Crafts. What is that?
There are a few women who make bags and do embroidery and decorate the bags to make them look good. I sell them at some yoga studios to help them. In India, not many women are working, so I can help. I started this small business in 2014. I got the stuff from there, I sell it here. I go to fairs and hope to show people how pretty they are. Both that and the henna are connected to India. I like that I can bring a little bit of India here.
What other hobbies and interests do you have?
I love to spend time with my husband and my son. We travel a lot. We traveled before him as well. My son likes to travel. We went to Disney World last year. I also like gardening. I have a little vegetable garden at home. Those are my two main hobbies.
Have you had a moment or time in your life that helped shape you into who you are today?
I came here in 2008, and I got sick in 2009. I was very sick for two years. My parents didn’t have visas, so they could not visit me, and my husband was so busy doing his residency. I was alone at home in a different country. That time made me so strong that now I feel like I can overcome anything. Health is wealth, and if health is down, you feel so down. That was my turning point, and mentally I am much stronger now.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I would like to thank my husband and my mom and my sisters back in India. They have always been great support in my life. One of my sisters came last year to visit me. Even though they are in India, my mom and sisters and I talk every day. I miss them a lot. I do like it here, because now I have a family and the community is great. I also get to do my hobby as well.
To see more of Dosaya’s designs and art or schedule an appointment visit her Facebook Page Heena Tattoo
Photos by Emma Black