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By Meghna Nair

While sailing through the impressionable stages of life, we come across many ideas which become symbolic to our identity. We try to shape this thought through many channels. Some breathe life into such ideas through ink, and one such form is BODY ART.

These days, it is increasingly becoming a fad. An increasing number of people are now getting inked and every tattoo has a story behind it. For some, it is reinforcing their own identity, like wearing your true self on your body, whereas for others the reason could be as simple and superficial as fashion because tattoos any day paint a pretty picture.

Irrespective of the reason, the process of getting inked is not pleasant. Despite this, the number of people getting inked is constantly rising.

“Needles are painful and some people prefer pain. It is a sadomasochistic rush. The same reason why people like bondage, sadism and masochism- it is a release,” says Akash Shukla, a PRINT journalist from Lucknow.

Bracing pain and overcoming your fears can, at times, make you feel invincible. Some people are afraid of needles and the pain associated with it. Getting a tattoo can have a cathartic effect on some. Some people have an affinity for symbols. They hold certain symbols close to their hearts and these symbols have a profound meaning for them. For some, it could be a five-point star, for others it could be a gun, and for some others it could be a dove. Whatever it may be, there would be some strong leanings behind it.

“I lived all my life in Kolkata and have never moved out even once. So when I left home for Delhi, owning up to all my responsibilities also gave me a sense of freedom. All our lives we aim to be free. This was my first step to freedom and that is why I chose to get inked,” says Roshni Chakrabarty, who has got ‘freedom’ inked on her wrist.

People also get inked to make a statement; to stand apart from the rest of the society. Sometimes, it is because they don’t feel they fit in and neither do they feel any necessity for it. The society sees it as a sign of rebellion, whereas the person sees it as a sign of liberation-being in harmony with one’s true self. The best example of this can be bikers and wrestlers.

On the other hand, tattoos have a rich cultural significance in India. An essay titled “A Tale of Tattoosby Mark Hawthorne on Hinduism Today says tattoos are seen as “another step towards spiritual development.” In the essay, he states “Anthropologists believe tattoos are a part of the evolution of a tradition that views the voluntary endurance of pain as a way to tap into a primal urge for meaning and belonging. And sacred symbols, from cave paintings to mandalas, are as old as the struggle to understand our world.”

In Northern India, one can see many people who have tattooed names on their forearms. Generally people have their own names tattooed on their forearms. Written in Devnagari script, the names inked on their skins would provide reinstatement of the identity to that person. Sometimes people also choose to get the names of their beloved inked on their skins.

Getting a name inked on the forearm is not restricted to the ancient times alone. David Beckham who has a big tattoo of his wife Victoria’s name inked on his forearm has inspired many others to make a beeline for the same trend. Saif Ali Khan caused quite a buzz in the media for branding a forearm name tattoo of his lady love Kareena Kapoor Khan.

Deepika Padukone, also known for the RK tattoo on the nape of her neck, is one of the celebrities who have followed the trend of getting the initials/name of their beloved ones inked on their skin.

Getting inked is no longer a mere fashion statement. For some people, it could be superficial or a fetish which one can get over with, but for others, it carries a profound meaning which echoes in their personality or what they want to achieve in life. Like art, it can transcend boundaries of reason and cross over to spiritual realm; relevance and meaning to the significance of body art is open-ended and subjective, waiting to be deciphered.



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