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Brides hand it to the Raptors with henna art celebrating the NBA champions

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Brides hand it to the Raptors with henna art celebrating the NBA champions | The Star

Vaughan bride Alyia Rahemtulla shows off her Raptors bridal henna.

Alyia Rahemtulla woke up last Friday morning with butterflies in her stomach, and not just because she was getting married soon. Like most everyone else in the Toronto area, Rahemtulla was buzzing from the historic events of Thursday.

The Toronto Raptors had been crowned NBA champions for the first time in the team’s existence. Friday was the morning after the delight and Rahemtulla, a longtime fan, was ecstatic — because she had come up with a particularly personal way to mark the moment.

“I was like one hundred per cent this has to be on my mehndi (another term for henna), this has to be represented,” said Rahemtullah, who was preparing to get her hands adorned for her June 16 wedding.

The Vaughan bride presented a design she had in mind to her henna artist, Sanaa Riyazali Merchant. The design featured the Toronto skyline and an airplane flying to the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, where Rahemtulla’s now-husband lives and where she plans to move. And right in the middle of her forearm, where a traditional South Asian mandala (an intricate circular design) should have been, was the Raptors iconic claw logo.

“I totally jumped on the opportunity because it shows creativity,” said Merchant, who has been doing bridal henna professionally for a decade. “It’s such a cool logo to do. I love doing new things in bridal mehndi.”

The Raptors’ historic NBA championship brought the curtain down on the basketball season. But the exploits of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and co. also coincided with wedding season. And some diehard fans like Rahemtulla are choosing to incorporate their love for the team into their traditional bridal henna. It’s one way of personalizing the tradition to be more representative of the bride and groom.

Read more:

Raptors fans take their best shot at selling Kawhi on repeat performance

Luck? No, these fans know what to do … or not do … to ensure a Raptors’ win

Represented by Raptors: How one team connects the most diverse city in the world

“I’ve been asked in the past to incorporate many other things like the wedding logos, or even other teams,” Merchant said. “I’ve even done country flags, I’ve done tiny little elephants blowing hearts.”

But in the wake of their astonishing run through the NBA playoffs, the Raptors started gaining popularity.

“It’s more traditional to have the regular designs that are very intricate and so the Raptors symbol was something that was more up and coming, or even customizing the mehndi to tell a story,” Rahemtullah said. “That was what I wanted to do, tell our story.”

Brides in several South Asian cultures, from the likes of Pakistan and India, traditionally wear henna for their big day. They leave the paste on for hours in advance to ensure a dark stain that will last through several days of celebrations. In many cultures, the henna will contain the groom’s initials hidden in intricate patterns, which he then has to find on the wedding night.

But like many brides, Rahemtulla wanted an even more personal touch, choosing the Raptors logo to celebrate the big win and how much it meant to her.

Alyia Rahemtulla's partner, Abbas Jessa, is also a huge sports fan and was thrilled to see her Raptors henna.

Her partner, Abbas Jessa, also a huge sports fan, loved it. The two had been to several Raptors games together and watched the deciding Game 6 as a family, too.

Though she’s moving to New York, her love of the Raptors “is coming with me,” Rahemtullah said. “He knows. He’s actually turned around and he’s supporting the Raptors!”

The day after her wedding, Alyia Rahemtulla went to the Raptors parade ready with her henna featuring their claw logo.

The team’s run has sparked artistic expression across the city. Fresh murals of the Raptor’s leading stars were plastered over buildings downtown and in the suburbs. There were more permanent pieces commissioned too.

When Freedom Ink tattoo parlour on College St. offered fans free Raptors tattoos before the Finals series against the Golden State Warriors, there was a queue around the block. Now, soon-to-be brides and their henna artists are flexing their artistic muscles too.

Toronto bride Zahra Bano, who has been following the Raptors since she was a child, also chose to sharpen up her henna with some Raptors claw for her wedding last Sunday.

The team won the championship on the day of her sangeet or mehndi, also the name for a traditional pre-wedding celebration. Bano streamed the entire game for her guests at the event at the Scarborough Convention Centre.

“I thought it was symbolic,” Bano said. “That’s why I had to pay tribute to them with my henna because I got henna done the next day.”

For her design, done by artist Sonia S. Randhawa, Bano added the Raptors claw on one forearm and an image of herself and her husband on the other. The reaction from her friends and family was huge.

“They loved it. They kept saying it was so symbolic of that night,” Bano said.

Adding the Raptors in bridal henna is pretty significant but wedding guests can also join the fun with much lower stakes at play.

Mathu Raveendran decided to get the Raptors logo done in her henna for "good luck."

Madhu Raveendran was celebrating at her friend’s mehndi party in Scarborough as a bridesmaid the night of Game 6 when the title was clinched. She got to wear henna for just the second time in her life and decided to go with the Raptors logo as “a good luck charm.”

“During that whole night my hand was a prop for my friends’ pictures,” Raveendran said, who also got her design done by Merchant.

Mathu Raveendran says her Raptors henna got lots of appreciation at Monday's victory parade.

She went to the Raptors parade on Monday with the henna stain still going strong.

“People were going by us and they were like, “Oh my god, cool tat!’ It’s a conversation starter,” Raveendran said. “I think I’m gonna have to do this every year as a good luck charm.”

Sahar Fatima is a digital producer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @sahar_fatima

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“I totally jumped on the opportunity because it shows creativity,” said Merchant, who has been doing bridal henna professionally for a decade. “It’s such a cool logo to do. I love doing new things in bridal mehndi.”

The Raptors’ historic NBA championship brought the curtain down on the basketball season. But the exploits of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and co. also coincided with wedding season. And some diehard fans like Rahemtulla are choosing to incorporate their love for the team into their traditional bridal henna. It’s one way of personalizing the tradition to be more representative of the bride and groom.

Read more:

Raptors fans take their best shot at selling Kawhi on repeat performance

Luck? No, these fans know what to do … or not do … to ensure a Raptors’ win

Represented by Raptors: How one team connects the most diverse city in the world

“},{“type”:”articleRelated”,”display”:”medium-up”},{“type”:”textBreakPoint”,”insertAt”:”contentMiddleBreakPoint”},{“type”:”slimcut”},{“type”:”text”,”text”:”

“I’ve been asked in the past to incorporate many other things like the wedding logos, or even other teams,” Merchant said. “I’ve even done country flags, I’ve done tiny little elephants blowing hearts.”

But in the wake of their astonishing run through the NBA playoffs, the Raptors started gaining popularity.

“},{“type”:”ad”,”display”:”small-only”,”pos”:”2″,”sizes”:[[300,250]],”interstitial”:true,”name”:”MobileMiddleBottomArticleBigBox”},{“type”:”text”,”text”:”

“It’s more traditional to have the regular designs that are very intricate and so the Raptors symbol was something that was more up and coming, or even customizing the mehndi to tell a story,” Rahemtullah said. “That was what I wanted to do, tell our story.”

Brides in several South Asian cultures, from the likes of Pakistan and India, traditionally wear henna for their big day. They leave the paste on for hours in advance to ensure a dark stain that will last through several days of celebrations. In many cultures, the henna will contain the groom’s initials hidden in intricate patterns, which he then has to find on the wedding night.

But like many brides, Rahemtulla wanted an even more personal touch, choosing the Raptors logo to celebrate the big win and how much it meant to her.

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Her partner, Abbas Jessa, also a huge sports fan, loved it. The two had been to several Raptors games together and watched the deciding Game 6 as a family, too.

Though she’s moving to New York, her love of the Raptors “is coming with me,” Rahemtullah said. “He knows. He’s actually turned around and he’s supporting the Raptors!”

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The team’s run has sparked artistic expression across the city. Fresh murals of the Raptor’s leading stars were plastered over buildings downtown and in the suburbs. There were more permanent pieces commissioned too.

When Freedom Ink tattoo parlour on College St. offered fans free Raptors tattoos before the Finals series against the Golden State Warriors, there was a queue around the block. Now, soon-to-be brides and their henna artists are flexing their artistic muscles too.

Toronto bride Zahra Bano, who has been following the Raptors since she was a child, also chose to sharpen up her henna with some Raptors claw for her wedding last Sunday.

The team won the championship on the day of her sangeet or mehndi, also the name for a traditional pre-wedding celebration. Bano streamed the entire game for her guests at the event at the Scarborough Convention Centre.

“I thought it was symbolic,” Bano said. “That’s why I had to pay tribute to them with my henna because I got henna done the next day.”

“},{“snippet”:”

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For her design, done by artist Sonia S. Randhawa, Bano added the Raptors claw on one forearm and an image of herself and her husband on the other. The reaction from her friends and family was huge.

“They loved it. They kept saying it was so symbolic of that night,” Bano said.

Adding the Raptors in bridal henna is pretty significant but wedding guests can also join the fun with much lower stakes at play.

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Madhu Raveendran was celebrating at her friend’s mehndi party in Scarborough as a bridesmaid the night of Game 6 when the title was clinched. She got to wear henna for just the second time in her life and decided to go with the Raptors logo as “a good luck charm.”

“During that whole night my hand was a prop for my friends’ pictures,” Raveendran said, who also got her design done by Merchant.

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She went to the Raptors parade on Monday with the henna stain still going strong.

“People were going by us and they were like, “Oh my god, cool tat!’ It’s a conversation starter,” Raveendran said. “I think I’m gonna have to do this every year as a good luck charm.”

Sahar Fatima is a digital producer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @sahar_fatima

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