India is famous for being a land of diversities and practicing so many cultures and traditions. The use of Mehandi is common in the Indian subcontinent and some region of the present state Pakistan. It is widely used by the women and girls in different occasions and festivals. Practiced by the major communities of Indian subcontinent i.e. Hindus and Muslims, they share some common beliefs within them regarding Mehandi or Henna that it bring good omen. The main motive of the Mehandi as believed by the Vedic customs is “awakening the inner light”. The word ‘Mehandi’ is also known as ‘Mehndi’ or ‘Henna’ and is actually derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Mendhika’.
What is this thing, actually? What is its importance?
It is seen to be widely used by the women and girls in wedding, festivals, and traditional events. It is made from the local variant ‘Henna’ which is widely grown in India and is popularly known to be a dying agent. Originated from Egypt Henna were then used to blemish the mummies hair and nail to work as a preservative and Henna is proved to have some medicinal factor attached to it. Since then it is used as dying purposes on hair and on clothes. With time it carried away the culture to Indian subcontinent and it is practiced since then to color hair and hand with this product. It is applied as a temporary form of skin decoration on finger nails and toenails. Popularized and pumped up by the film industry in various pictures, Mehndi achieved love and craziness for itself throughout the sub-continent and didn’t limit within communities. Every Hindu women interests to have Mehandi on her hands on any cultural / traditional events like pre-marriage of some relative or say any festival time like Diwali and Karva Chauth. It is in demand in Muslim communities also, to put on Mehandi on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha and also in weddings.
General Idea to apply-
It is generally drawn on palms, back of hand, and feet as these portions of body have the clearest skin and will allow perfect contrast visualization to other people. The traditional Mehandi was actually made by Indian women in rural areas by grinding the henna leaves with the hand-grinder made up of stones. They used to add some oil while grinding process to let the color of Mehandi more delighting and charming. As a matter of fact the rural made pure Mehandi was so accurately and professionally made and it ensured so much quality that it lasted for weeks before fading away.
Transformation with time-
With time and technology bringing revolution to each and everything, this material also changed its actuality and nowadays we can have readymade Mehandi cones which are a paste like material wrapped inside an air-tight cone and is ready to use. These are called Mehandi cones. The cone shaped idea of packets has been given so as the Mehandi can be applied perfectly in shape and beautiful designs could be taken care of. Also the conical packet gives us the freedom of how much pressure is to be applied and make the design wide or thin lines according to which the hand would look beautiful afterwards.
Importance of Mehandi in Weddings:
It is said that ‘Every women swears with Mehendi’, they put their would-be husband’s name in scripted with the design. The darker and contrasting the design would be the more will be the Love, it is said. As per the Hindu beliefs every human’s fate is imprinted on one’s hand and engraving the would-be partner of one another would keep the bonding between them for eternity it is said. Mehandi is not only well-known for its beauty but for its wide use in the whole rituals having the Vedic importance. Every girl within before marrying has to undergo certain rituals and ceremonies. One of the popular and charming ceremonies is “Mehandi ceremony or Henna ceremony”. On this day the bride and her family arrange a get together at their place with their relatives and friends who participate in this Mehandi ceremony and give the bride blessing for her well-being and starting of marital life. One more thing, only ladies participate in this function and this is taken into consideration as a private affair without much show-off. The bride’s hand, palm and feet are decorated with beautiful designs of Mehendi. Usually this is done by some Mehandi experts or designers who are hired in order to make sure every design is neatly examined and performed. The women in the house keep on merry making and sing traditional songs with traditional instrument i.e. Dholak to make the environment beautiful and praying for the blissful life of the bride. As part of the tradition, the bride is not allowed to do any work in her marital house till the Mehandi fades away.
In ancient times, the Mehandi ceremony would be celebrated by applying the freshly grinded henna leaves with merry making of the women with Dholak and singing folk songs. Nowadays we have various options of having Mehandi like powdered form available in the market which needs to be mixed with water before use, and the readymade paste tube which are ready to use and do not need processing. The Bridal Mehandi has also been popular with time and demand and craze of Arabian Mehendi, Crystal mehendi, Tattoo Mehandi etc. have gain popularity.
One step ahead: Being smart
We are born and brought up in the modern era which gives us the options to have many choices. Nowadays we have this amazing option to hire a wedding planner who does every possible effort to make us tension free and out of stress. They have a team of capable members who are assigned to different jobs and charge a marginal package on the basis of customer demand. For e.g. if you want a astounding wedding preparation then it would be a big package and if it is a normal or small wedding then they would charge a comparatively lower amount. They have with them Mehandi specialists who know varieties of Mehandi designs to please you with. Before appointing the Mehandi designer a few things should be taken care of like the portfolio of the artist, the colors to be used and a quality check must be done by demanding a sample on somebody’s hand other than the bride’s to ensure nothing harm comes to the centre of attraction (The bride). They take care of everything that needs to make a memorable wedding such as camera stills and video, posting wedding card to catering, selecting wardrobe for bride to lighting and tent; every minute details are taken care of. One can be a wedding planner itself if you have knowledge of places, venues, the places where to get good products at a lower price, the absolute knowledge of what will suit on what; may be bride’s Lehnga to the color of tent to be put, every details need attention.
The ceremony of Mehandi is just another little tradition which completes the procedure of kaleidoscopic Indian wedding. The ceremonies are events based on a single thread of old ages, superstitions, beliefs which show a clear picture of making Indian wedding a vibrant, exotic and multi-diversity culture of India.
Now let us know how this Mehandi is produced, and it’s proper application procedure.
Application procedure: Things to do
Generally it is made up from the stems and leaves of the Henna plant. The leaves and stems are plucked up from the plant and are allowed to dry. After that, they are grounded using traditional hand mill or the modern grinders. Then we have to make the henna paste but before that we have to sift the henna powder through a nylon strainer so as to remove any chunks or large pieces that can block the path of our applicator. After that, we have to place that henna powder in a bowl and mix some 60ml of lemon juice with essential oils to it such as Lavender oil, Raven Sara oil, Cajuput etc. and stir the mixture. It is to be kept in mind that the solution needs to have to be a thick consistency. The solution needs constant stirring till the texture becomes silky smooth. Then the bowl needs to be covered with a plastic cap and let it be still in room temperature. We can add more lemon juice to it for speeder results. Gradually it can be seen that the dye gets separated in form of yogurt like structure and floats on the surface. Remove the required part i.e. the surface part and put it in conical structure and lock it with a rubber band. Next it is ready to use, we just need to make a hole on the conical part of the tube and we are ready to explore some of the awesome designs oh Heena.
The Mehandi needs to be left for two to four hours or in some case the whole night before it is peeled off. After the immediate application of Mehandi it dries up with time and cracks are seen on the lining and designing of the heena to which a solution of lemonade and sugar is applied to keep it moist for some more time. The more it will be wet and be on hands the more it is going to be contrast and glow. In these modern days tissue paper or paper napkins are wrapped over the applied placed i.e. hands or feet to maintain the body heat and utilize it to have an awesome design.
Than Heena is peeled off from the hand, it leaves a light imprint. But with time the Mehandi gets oxidized and get darker and darker. After an interval of one whole day we can see the actual colors of the Mehendi. So this is the complete process of transformation of Heena to Mehendi.
Some useful tips:
There are handpicked tips that should be kept in mind in order to be safe from any reaction:
Some people face skin allergies after applying the Henna on their skin, so before applying it on the hands and palm it can be tested by applying a small patch on the upper arm so that in worst case it can be covered with sleeves. In the United States it is used popularly as hair dye. The FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) do not recommend applying it directly on skin. Nowadays the use of Mehandi has taken different direction by the introduction of Sticker Mehandi and multi-color glitter Mehendi. It is advised to check on these products quality and in case of the sticker Mehandi check the adhesive is skin-friendly or not. Any reaction felt or seen should be immediately brought under the Doctor’s notice. It was complained that a special type of chemical is used in making the Mehandi cones known as Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD). It is found to be the same chemicals that are used in printers and photocopying machine printer cartridges which are harmful for the body. With the changing time we see various vibrant colors of heena or Mehandi too. Some colors that are popular among the designer Mehandi line are black and red, other than its natural color. In the Middle East region, Arabic Mehandi used black color as their primary color. But in India black is only used in outlining or border region of the Mehendi.
Traditional Pakistani and Hindu Sikh/Punjabi wedding is generally very time taking and full of rituals. Many pre-wedding rituals and post wedding rituals need to be followed. Various parts of the country celebrate different customs according to their own ancestral property.
Some must know facts:
Do you know something strange? It follows like this, The Mehandi ceremony will not start if your would-be mother-in-law don’t draw something on your palm first. Yeah it is a fun filled occasion where everybody is in a good mood and sings songs and play instruments by praying for the well being of the bride and her future.
Not just the South Asian communities celebrate this Mehandi festival but places like Birmingham in the UK are also not far away from it. It is known to be a center of lavish Mehandi celebration all around the globe.
My Name is Anchal Ahuja and I am Fashion Designer by Profession. I am a self taught Mehandi/henna designer. I am from India and I am in relation with mehandi from last 5 Years ....