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Alta or Mahawar – Indian Tradition of Decorating feet

Monday, July 20, 2009




Painting feminine toes in deep red Alta is a tradition of India. Alta is red color dye which is used by Indian women for decorating their feet specially during marriages and religious festivals. Adoration of foot is a glorifying and humble experience. Traditionally an Indian woman devotes as much attention to her feet as she does to her face and hair. Feet are bathed and rubbed with scrubbers to remove ingrained dirt and rough skin. They are massaged with scented oils for pleasure and relaxation as well as to maintain a healthy body. The soles are stained red with henna or mehendi. For special occasions the upper foot is painted with Alta elaborate designs and ornamented with jewellery.

Beauty of Indian bride is incomplete without decorating her feet with Alta. Almost every Bengali woman applies Alta on her feet during Durga puja. The make up kit of a Bengali woman is incomplete without Alta. Traditionally Alta was made from beetles, but now its made from artificial colors.

Alta not only makes the feet look beautiful but also provides a cooling effect which makes the entire body feel fresh and cool. Alta is also known as Mahawar in some parts of the country. The only difference is that Alta is bright red in color whereas Mahawar is dark pink in color. Alta and Mahawar are both used for decorating feet.In the second picture Lord Krishna decorating Radha's feet with Mahawar.

4 comments:

Amaresh said...

good one ... it's mainly for gals rite ?

Meghana said...

Hi Amaresh,

Girls use it very often for the decoration of their feet.But in many parts of the Indian it is even applied to bridegroom at the time of wedding ceremony.

Anonymous said...

hi
can someone tell me how to remove alta/mahawar stain on cloth

krishna v. shukla said...

Stock up on the mahawar or Alta a.k.z Rose Bengal, big pharma companies have patented it, as it is expected to cure cancer