Colouring The Skin

Tattooing is as old as time. So does faith of people on religious symbols.

It’s a cliché for people unmoved by the stigma once attached to tattoos to still believe in the oldest body art form that has now been broadly accepted as great cultural exchange. It has already shed the symbol of rebellion it once was and is now entering the world of pop culture. India, of late, has been a part of this rich artistic tradition that goes back to the primordial time. High-art tattoo conventions and exhibitions are another example of the widening acceptance of body markings, especially by the Millennials. Celebrity tattoos is less than trendy and love and couple tattoos is now considered passé. The fashionable artistic expression for 2017, hands down, is religious symbols.

The 3 rd Heartwork Tattoo Festival, held recently at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, played host to some of the most renowned tattoo artists, working in a diverse atmosphere of ink-art. It was created with an idea to embrace the eternal tattoo art and provide an opportunity for the Indian artists to experience and learn the taste of creative art from different cultural perspective.

Speaking to The Hindu on popularity of once stigmatised art form and trending tattoos, Harsh Sethi, a noted tattoo artist, says: “Youngsters wants tattoos of Shiva because he symbolises power and strength. His eye, third eye and full face and body are all time favourites. Boys want Shiva’s face along with his upper half body to be made on their biceps and chest. Some want trishul with Shiva or Shiva with damru.”

“Those who are interested in spiritualism feel this is the way to be associated with the Almighty,” added Harsh. Why did Shiva markings so captivate youngsters? “Shiva epitomises masculinity and dare devilry. There are also guys who simply want to get Shiva tattoo as it is trendy these days. Mostly it is done because either they are Shiva’s devotees or it inspires them to do a better job at their workplace.”

Echoing the same view of his counterpart on this trendy religious symbols, the veteran and one of the pioneers of the Indian Tattoo Industry, Sammer Patange says that it is because of the spiritualism that motivates youngsters to take up to these artistic religious symbols. “We need to understand that people are getting attracted to spiritualism these days because of stressful lives. They believe this would help them to de-stress and be a good luck charm for them. Also, people have slightly aggressive side to them and want to portray this to others.”

Faith and diversity is another feature of this rich and the oldest body art form. Stressing the fact there is no divorce between following fashion trends and going under the needle on religious lines. Sameer adds that Sikhs prefers the face of Guru Nanank and use Khanda (consisting of sword, twokripans and a circle). “Jesus Christ and multiple designs of the Cross are also in demand.”

“Even if people adopt design from the west, they insist that the permanent tattoo needs to have an Indian touch. For them, it is not decoration but a reaffirmation of their faith.”

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