Awlata (also Mahawar or Rose Bengal) is a red dye that is applied to the hands and feet that is mainly done in the Indian subcontinent, notably done in Bengal, and in the Eastern provinces of India like in Bihar and also in Odisha. Its applied with cotton to the hands and feet during marriage ceremonies and festivals. Alta was originally produced from betel leaves, although later it was replaced with lac and now synthetic dyes. The significance of Alta is that it resembles blood, which is symbolic of fertility and prosperity.It is an easy adornment to apply, although designing intricate patterns with Alta is impossible. Alta basically employs simple painting techniques with a brush that can be accomplished by any person and doesn’t require any artistic skill.
- Garg, Gaṅgā Rām. (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world, Volume 2. p. 348.
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