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Many Somali women at the wedding had intricate red or black henna designs on their hands and arms. Leyla, a high school student at Faribault High School, explained that henna is a customary part of Somali celebrations and traditions. Looking around at the different designs, she said some of the women had gone up to Minneapolis to have their henna done by professionals. However, others had simply used kits to make henna designs on one another's hands and arms.
“You have to be artistic to do it,” remarked Sufia, also a student at Faribault High School. There were a wide variety of different patterns, some that were ornate and teardrop-shaped, others that only coated the fingertips in color. Sufia personally favors elaborate floral designs, but says that many of the older women prefer the simpler ones.
Henna in Minnesota
Many of the younger women said that they like getting henna designs even outside the context of holidays and celebrations, saying they enjoyed getting theirs done at different Somali malls in the Twin Cities area. The henna lasts for weeks, and Sufia had received many compliments and questions from her non-Somali classmates about her henna. In fact, Sufia remarked that she had drawn henna on the arms of some of her non-Somali classmates at Faribault High School before their prom. Reflecting on the experience, she said:
It was amazing. We try so many things of yours. It was amazing to see you guys trying ours.
Though Sufia did not herself choose to go to the prom, she was happy to know that several of her classmates had embraced some aspects of Somali culture.