Mehndi is the traditional art of designing one’s hands and/or feet with intricate decorations with the use of henna, which is nothing but a natural dye. It is much like a temporary tattoo. In fact, Mehndi is a vital part of Indian rituals and customs. That said, the big fat Indian wedding is definitely not complete without the Mehndi ceremony. The main idea behind the application of Mehndi on the Indian bride’s hands and/or feet is to make her feel like a princess!
A Bit about Mehndi
Mehndi was traditionally used as a form of decoration mainly for brides. Over the years however, the application of Mehndi or henna has become popular with everyone and is applied on occasions other than weddings like on Diwali and Eid. Its color ranges typically from reddish brown to dark brownish black, depending on the preparation.
Application of Mehndi
The paste of henna is generally applied on to one’s hands and/or feet using a plastic cone. At times, mehndi artists also use a paint brush, but this method is not so common. Once the mehndi is applied as a design on the hands and/or feet, and it has begun to dry up, it is dowsed with a mixture of sugar and lemon juice. The application of this mixture helps to bring out a stronger color, if so desired.
Types of Mehndi
There are many different styles of mehndi, depending on the region from which they come from. The most popular types are Arabic, Pakistani, African and Indian, the designs of which are easily distinguishable from the other.
Arabic Mehndi contains less details and intricacy, while the color is very dark. In fact, vines and leaves with beautiful flowers are the trademark of Arabic Mehndi.
Pakistani Mehndi on the other hand, is the most detailed and intricate of the lot. It thus goes without saying that the application of this type of Mehndi is time consuming.
Indian Mehndi can be identified because of the presence of either a big dot or figure drawn on the center of the palm or on the back of the hand. Further, one’s finger tips are always completely colored when applying Indian Mehndi.
African Mehndi although rarely chosen for Mehndi application is also very pretty. One can differentiate this kind of Mehndi from the rest due to the presence of intricate geometric figures and dots.
Significance of Mehndi
The application of Mehndi is associated with a good number of things. One such notion goes that the darker the color of the bride’s Mehndi, the more her husband-to-be will love her. An interesting aspect of Mehndi application is the incorporation of both the bride and groom’s names in the Mehndi design. Until the groom has found both the names, it is said that their wedding night will not commence. Lastly, a custom followed in relation to the application of Mehndi states that a bride should never step out of the house until the Mehndi ceremony has come to an end.
An Indian wedding as most know already takes place over a good number of days and comprises of many pre-wedding functions. The Mehndi celebration is one of them. This ceremony usually takes place at the house of the bride or a place chosen by the bride and her family and the entire function is usually hosted and funded by the bride’s family. Nowadays, the entire location is decorated with flowers and music is played during the entire function.
The Mehndi celebration is quite a fun affair. The bride and the women attendees choose their own Mehndi designs at the party and then sit down during its application. Professional mehndi artists are called in for the ceremony. The groom too is sometimes present at this ceremony and the couple-to-be are given Indian sweets, more commonly known as mithai in India. Guests leave with a gift at the end of the ceremony.
Brides are advised to choose the type of Mehndi that they wish to apply to your hands and/or feet in advance, so as to avoid any hasty decisions. If you happen to be getting married soon, all you bride’s to be can look forward to the joyous Mehndi function. And, don’t forget to get creative when choosing your design!