Tammy Samour of Seabrook, Texas, is less than thrilled about it, shocked that her daughter would come home with something with ties to another culture from an event meant to explore other cultures. Getting henna didn’t appear to be a mandatory activity, since the school sent out an email prior to the event, letting parents know that henna would be available to kids. Presumably if parents were uncomfortable with it, they could have just opted out.
Samour did not, mostly because she didn’t know what henna was. She told KHOU, a local news outlet, that, “Exploring other cultures is a wonderful thing… but tattooing another culture’s expressions on my daughter is not acceptable.” Given that statement, it’s clear she still doesn’t know what henna is.
If you’re also unfamiliar with the stuff, here’s what henna is: a plant, ground into a powder, mixed with liquid and squeezed through a cone to create pretty designs on a person’s skin. It’s popular in India and Pakistan and at crusty stalls on boardwalks, where you can get a henna decoration of a dolphin leaping over your navel or whatever.
Here’s what it isn’t: a tattoo.
It’s not a tool for religious indoctrination either, but it appears that after Samour did some quick Googling and found that it has religious roots — specifically, it is sometimes used before weddings or festivals in Hinduism and Islam — she learned everything she needed to know and is now concerned that Christmas just won’t be the same with “another religion’s celebratory symbolism all over my daughter’s hands.”
There’s so much wrong with this misplaced indignation that it’s not possible to know quite where to begin. First, if she was unfamiliar with the practice, maybe that should have pinged her radar when she got the email. In a day and age when you can literally ask your phone “what is henna?” there’s really no reason to blame the school just because she didn’t do her due diligence. Most of us would at least be curious if there was going to be something at our kid’s school that we weren’t familiar with.
Second, the school has already apologized and has actually offered to pay to have the little girl’s hands Photoshopped in any Christmas pictures. Think on that for a second. Not that long ago, a school paddled a kid for laughing too loudly. This school apologized for something that wasn’t even its fault and offered to pick up the tab to make it even more right, and she’s still pissy.
Finally, there’s the religious aspect. Henna might have Vedic roots, but plenty of people use it more for secular reasons than not. India has a Christian population, many of whom also decorate themselves with henna.
That said, if Samour is dead set against having anything in her home or on her body that does not have even tenuous religious roots in a faith that is not hers or is forbidden by the Bible, then she has some serious redecorating to do before Christmas next week. First, she’s gonna have to pull that beautiful Christmas tree down, since greenery during the winter solstice has pagan roots, and worse, represents lots of sexin’ (the tree symbolizes fertility).
Any ornaments are also going to have to go, since that is straight out of ancient Rome, a custom conceived of during the Saturnalia festival. Also, she’d better not have any of that delicious Christmas ham that’s so popular — that’s a no-no too.
If all of that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. Just like getting annoyed about an activity that you had a chance to do your research on (but took a hard pass anyway) after a very gracious apology and then some from the school looks a whole lot like parental indignation for its own sake.