How do I empower women in Montreal and South Asia through my henna art


This first-person article is the experience of Sinthusha Kandiah, a Montreal social entrepreneur and artist.For more information about CBC’s first-person story, see common problem.

When I grew up, I was always attracted by art. Drawing, sketching, and sketching, from small to large, my hands are always itchy and I want to scribble on something. With the encouragement of my father, I have the motivation to explore different media.

I saw henna, also known as Marudani In Tamil and Mehdini In Hindi, when I was in elementary school, a classmate held it in his hand. It’s fun to see such a beautiful artwork on someone’s body. I have seen it in movies and other media, but I didn’t see it with my own eyes until that day.

Since then, I have been inspired to see my hands as a canvas for my art. I went to my mother and asked her to buy me a henna cone.

At first, she refused because she thought I was too young, so I started to draw with my hands and the strokes on the paper. Soon, my mother bought my first henna cone when I was 13 years old.

I use cones to apply a paste made from dried henna plants to the skin. When I tried it for the first time, I felt that I had released a hidden passion. Henna is like meditation to me. It has its own flow, allowing me to be immersed in the present. My mother will tell me the story of how her mother used to put henna on their hands because they planted this plant in the backyard. They will use finger and palm filling to cool the body, because henna is a natural cooling agent.

Some henna art by Sinthusha. The henna plant is dried and made into a paste, and then it is applied to the skin. (Submitted by Sinthusha Kandiah)

I have always known that art has a deeper meaning in my life. When I was 17, I realized that I wanted to turn my hobby into a career. But I know that I cannot take art as a career because my parents do not accept it and want me to enter the field of science.

I studied anatomy and cell biology at university, but even after earning a degree, I never felt fully absorbed. I like to understand the human body very much, but I know that science is not my profession.

I told myself that no matter where I go, I will never give up my artistic side. So I was born with the idea of ??using my passion for art to help the world make a little change.

Six years ago, I founded the Divinart Foundation, dedicated to influencing the war-affected Illankai (also known as Sri Lanka) region and the slums of India in Tiohtià:ke (also known as Montreal) and internationally. From my henna Funds raised by the arts.

The foundation’s focus is on empowering blind people affected by the civil war in Sri Lanka, indigenous communities in Montreal, and women living in slums in India but often forgotten by society.

In Sri Lanka, I met people who were caught in a crossfire or injured in an explosion during the civil war, causing them to suffer permanent injuries, such as blindness or loss of limbs. I saw how much strength and perseverance they have to live their lives, despite their environment. The foundation supports their education and livelihoods through technology, such as talking calculators and smart speakers, to help break down some of the institutional barriers in rural areas in Sri Lanka.

In Montreal, Divinart works with an organization every year to have a positive impact on the local community. We cooperated with Chez Doris, a women’s shelter, and donated baskets full of daily necessities to newly settled indigenous women.Most importantly, the purpose of the project is to pass Share their Story, and Their agree.

In 2019, I launched a project to help newly arrived women of ethnicity who have suffered marital violence by providing them with a special pen containing 13 resources so that they can seek emergency support at any time. Because these resources are hidden, they can prevent their partner from suspecting that they are seeking help.

Cintusha stands beside Valérie Plante, the mayor of Montreal. Plante holds a special pen from Divinart, which contains resources for women who have suffered marital violence. (Submitted by Sinthusha Kandiah)

Divinart also collaborated with SAFA, a grassroots organization in India, to help women living in slums achieve financial autonomy through their Jugnu project. Women who received entrepreneurship training from the organization received microfinance to fund their projects. With funding from past participants and charitable organizations, the project supports more women to give them economic autonomy every year.

Starting this project at a very young age has shaped me into who I am today. I seek to continuously deliver happiness, kindness, love and healing through this beautiful journey I have created for myself, while inspiring future generations and changing the world with integrity, respect and empathy.

I believe that each of us has a goal in life. My goal is to serve and help build a community through my art. For many years, using henna art to help others has been a key part of finding my identity. By participating in South Asian weddings and other celebrations, I feel connected with my cultural roots and traditions, which helped me to pay more attention to my ancestors and my cultural identity.

let’s go10:37Henna Artist??Sinthusha Kandiah

Our next guest is using henna art to support some communities in need, including communities in Montreal, Sri Lanka and India. We talked to Sinthusha Kandiah, the founder of a non-profit organization called Divinart??. 10:37

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