The Tattoo redefined in India

The Tattoo is no longer just a fashion accessory. It’s a trend that is now prevalent in India, where the youth are getting tattoos done for something more than just body art.

Tattoos in India

"A tattoo should mean something to a person"

Do you think tattoo is cool? Or does it just have the ‘Yo’ factor? Today, the tattoo amongst Indian youth is something that’s symbolic to represent who they are. It is about expressing individuality, it is about expressing their true love. And with reality shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink, the ink art in India has got a whole new definition.

From being used as identification marks to religious purpose, tattoos have evolved as an art form. In the last few years tattoos have become more socially acceptable in India. Endorsed by many Bollywood celebrities, the tattoo is the most loved art form among youths. Technology has also played a vital role in spreading the art of tattooing with so many varied and personal designs offered to an individual that the choice is overwhelming.

Tattoos are made by tiny needles with ink (colours/pigments) that puncture the skin and inject the ink under the skin. Getting a tattoo can take several hours depending on the size and complexity of the design.

Nowadays tattoos are a very popular way of expressing yourself through a permanent drawing on the skin. Sumana B Jayanth, a writer from Mangalore says “Tattoos are not a fashion accessory, it represents me. It is more like a voice to my personality.”

Taking about how the tattoo defines a person, Sumana says: “A tattoo should mean something to a person, for example I have a tattoo of dice – life is a game and we got to play it. Similarly I am an imaginary person, idealistic in nature. So I’ve got a Pegasus tattoo design done – the wings talk about freedom.”

For Karun Raman a fashion choreographer from Chennai, the tattoo is about celebrating his individuality. “I have many tattoos on my body but the latest one I got inked is very special to me. It is a male gender symbol around my navel, I am a gay and love being ‘what I am.’. This tattoo represents me and my love for men,” he explains.

Dr. Sandeep Dhar, a physiotherapist from Bangalore feels that ink art is the artistic way to express love. “The tattoo is an art form and every art is meaningful in its own way. I did my tattoo in the name of my love. It was my way of expressing my love for her.”

Bollywood Stars have been known to wear various kinds and types of tattoo designs on their bodies. Some have names of their spouses or beloved ones, while others prefer some kind of art form but it is symbolic! They get it done with a purpose.  Here’s a look at some of the actors who have got it done!

  • The lover boy Saif Ali Khan, has a tattoo with Kareena’s name on his arm. That’s how his love affair with Kareena was exposed.
  • The bold and beautiful Mandira Bedi raised a furore with her ‘Ek Onkar’ tattoo few years ago. She recently got ‘Om’ tattoo done on her lower waist. And with her recent topless shoot, there is no stopping this statement making starlet.
  • Bollywood heart throb Hrithik and wife Suzanne have identical star-shaped tattoos on their wrists.
  • Khiladi Akshay Kumar has a tattoo with his son Araav’s name on his back.
  • Munna bhai, Sanjay Datt has some great tattoos on his body. And the latest one to be added is apparently the name of his wife Manyata.
  • ‘Rock On’ star Arjun Rampal has a modern-art inspired tattoo on his arm.
  • Esha Deol has two tattoos on her back with writing and a sun-star shape.
  • Imran Khan has a sun-shaped tattoo down his nape.
  • Sexy and sensual Malaika Arora has a tattoo on her lower back saying ‘Angel.’ She knows how to turn heads! Little sister Amrita Arora has also got a couple of tattoos. The one on her back says “Love Saves the Day”. The other one that she has is the name of her boyfriend, Usman Afsal, on her lower back written in Arabic.
  • Deepika Padukone who has a tattoo with ex-boyfriend’s initials has stated she will not have it removed despite her break-up with Ranbir Kapoor.

Other Bollywood celebrities who have got themselves inked include, Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen, Suniel Shetty, John Abraham, Rakhi Sawant, Shruti Hassan, Abhishek Bhachchan and Upen Patel.

And what about the people in whose name the tattoo is done; they certainly have a reason to flaunt their million dollar smile. Urshika Kapoor Bhargava, Indian fashion designer residing in Fremont, California shares her special moment. “My husband (Pranav Bhargava) recently tattooed my name in his hand. It was a surprise for me, tears of happiness rolled down my cheek. It proved how truly deeply madly he loves me. Some moments in life makes you feel special and this certainly was one of them”.

Model Varun Gowda, from Delhi thinks it is also the fashion factor involved in tattooing that drives youngsters to get inked. Gowda say:

“Tattoos are symbolic and each one chooses a design that means something in their life but it is also mostly preferred among youth because it is a trend and sporting one means being cool.”

For Dr. Sudeep Gurung a physiotherapist/artist from Dehradun, the body art is a personal art. “The tattoo is one of the mediums to express your mind. It is a personal art form and a design can mean different things to different people. The tattoo is also about creativity. The place where you get it inked is important. It is not just the design but location, colour and style of the tattoo that adds meaning to the art.”

Here are some tips for those looking at getting a tattoo:

Tattoo Tips

  • Do your home work, research about the tattoo shop or artist you aim to visit.
  • Always seek a professional artist with a good track record or qualifications.
  • Educate yourself about the techniques, the process involved and the after care.
  • Do not drink alcohol on the day of tattooing.
  • Do not take any kind of drug or be under any kind of medication or intoxication.
  • Wear comfortable clothes on the day of tattooing.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and lightly apply anti-biotic ointment on your tattooed skin for the first few days.

There are many tattoo studios mushrooming in nook and cranny of India started by professionals. Ink professionals in India today it is big business. Here is what these experts say about tattoos in India today.

Sameer Patange, a Bollywood tattoo artist, says: “Tattooing is more than just inking the skin, it’s an art. We don’t randomly ink a person who comes to us, instead give them some kind of counselling and educate them more about the art. This, in turn, helps them to decide the right kind of design for their own.”

Pradeep Menon, a tattoo artist from Bollywood Ink Art, says: “Tattoo art has finally found its place in India, these days we have many people coming to get their tattoo done. They are very specific of what they want, as it is a personal thing for them. It is not just a design that’s carved on your skin but something meaningful in life to represent it.”

Check out our gallery of some cool tattoo designs by Indian ink artists:

So, if you want to express love or meaning, be cool or simply want some intrinsic design as a tattoo, then you too can join this hugely growing trend in India. But always make sure you use professionals.

Omi is a freelance fashion stylist and enjoys writing. He describes himself as 'a dare devil with quicksilver tongue and maverick mind, who wears his heart on his sleeve.' As a writer by profession and by choice, he dwells in the world of words.

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