A report by mydala.com, one of the country's largest mobile couponing platform that also enables tattoo artists to gain traction among youth, indicates the growth of the tattoo vertical in India.
"The tattoo business in India has evolved in the last four years and Bollywood is one reason for this change," Anisha Singh, founder and chief executive officer of mydala.com, told IANS.
"Earlier the age group of those who were going for inking was limited to 18-25 years, but now even the 40-year-old wants to get at least a single tattoo done on his or her body," added Singh.
From being considered a mark of rebellion in the 1960s to that of a trendy fashion statement in the 1990s, the cultural status of tattoo has undergone an image change. Influential international rock stars like members of the Rolling Stones in the early 1970s, flaunted their tattoos with style, but gradually the trend has been adopted by a broader segment of people in the current generation.
The boom has been witnessed in India too, but there's still a long way to go, says Malvin Shimray of Delhi-based Lons Tattoo.
"The tattoo industry in India is still growing. Technique and designs that are used here are not up to the mark as compared to what the western countries are using. Getting a tattoo is an art, but people portray it as a devilish kind of work," Shimray told IANS.
He says youngsters often follow trends blindly, but since a tattoo is going to stay with them forever, it must be a well-thought out decision. Also, it is the responsibility of the artists to make them aware of its long-term effects.
Among the most popular designs are those of religious figures like Shiva and Ganesha, quotations and feather tattoos in bright colours.
Mumbai-based artist Sachin Sherekar of Sach Tattoos believes tattoos are not fashion symbols and they must not be considered one either.
"Tattoo industry is one of the emerging sectors in India and this industry is getting good response from Indian audience. But 90 percent of tattoo business is spoilt in a sense because a tattoo is something which always shows on a person's body and a big chunk of tattoo artists don't understand this (and so they make anything).
"In the west, tattoos always represent people's passion and attitude and in India, people still treat it as a fashion symbol," Sherekar said.
A lot of it has to do with Bollywood.
"The trend has been escalated by a lot of Indian celebrities including Hrithik and his wife Sussanne Roshan. I think the new generation is much more brave now and they don't think twice before getting a permanent tattoo done," conceded Singh.
Bollywood's love for tattoos is evident.
Hrithik and Sussanne got themselves a matching tattoo of a six-point star, while the former also has his wife's name inked on his wrist.
Getting a loved one's name or initials inked is not new - actress Priyanka Chopra got her right arm tattooed with the message - "Daddy's li'l girl", and Akshay Kumar has got his son Aarav's name inked on his back.
Deepika has a tattoo of 'RK', which stands for her former beau Ranbir Kapoor's initials. Even actor Saif Ali Khan has a tattoo with the name of his wife Kareena inked in Devanagari.
There are others for whom tattoos are an expression of their beliefs. Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen has a tattoo which reads: "Temptation and Glory to God alone, I Am, I will either find a way or make on", and Sanjay Dutt is one with a unique love for tattoos. He has as many as eight inkings.
In the western world, there are several screen icons who have uninhibitedly got themselves inked. Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has more than a dozen tattoos. Megan Fox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Paris Hilton are also known for their inkings.
But beware before following in your favourite celebrities' shoes. Watch out if the artist is following appropriate hygienic practices and whether the person is using inks that are manufactured specifically for tattoos.
And get yourself inked "only with a design which you can carry your whole life," said Dhruv Bahl of F1 Tattoo Lounge.
(Nivedita can be contacted at email@example.com)
--IANS (Posted on 10-11-2013)