The decoration of one’s palm and feet has been very old in India. With the few essentials for a bride, Mehendi is one of them. Along with Mehendi, Alta also is a way of colouring and decorating your palm and feet. Mehendi is made from henna, whereas, Alta is a different form altogether. Alta or Mahawar or Rose Bengal is a red dye which women in India (especially Bengali, Odiya women in Eastern India) or Bangladesh apply with cotton on the border of their feet during marriages and religious festivals. During Durga Puja many Bengali women put Alta on their feet.
In certain areas of India there is a tradition that after the wedding ceremony, when the bride enters her in-laws house for the first time, she steps in a plate of Alta before crossing the threshold with her right foot, leaving red footsteps behind her.
Alta is also used by dance performers to decorate their palms and feet. It is believed that the placement of the dot on the palms and on the feet is to awaken the chakars of the palm and the feet. In many a dance form the alta is used to border the palm and feet so that the dance moment is enhanced.
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