Mehndi is an integral part of the Indian culture. In fact Indian weddings are considered incomplete without the mehndi ceremony. The application of mehendi or henna is not just confined to weddings alone; women adorn their hands with it on various auspicious occasions like festivals.
The word mehndi has been derived from the Sanskrit word Mendhika.
Henna, scientifically known as ‘Lawsonia inermis’, is a tropical plant the leaves of which leave a reddish colour on the skin. The leaves are ground and then applied to create attractive intricate mehndi designs on the palms, hands and feet. It wears off with time and is a safe alternative to permanent tattoos that are usually painful to make.
The Henna plant is also used to dye and condition one’s hair. It is also endowed with medicinal properties and has a cooling effect on the skin. It is applied to treat burns, cuts, reduce the growth of certain tumors, reduce inflammation, reduce or prevent spasms and relieve pain. The plant has no side-effects and is in use across different cultures of the world.
The use of henna in India, Pakistan, Middle East and Africa dates back to about 5000 years. In fact, people in the desert applied the henna mainly for its cooling property. Some historical records date back the use of Henna to 9000 years ago. Many historians opine that the use of henna originated in ancient India while a few believe that it was brought to India by the Moghuls during the 12th century.
Excavators have even excavated Egyptian mummies whose hands and hair have been found to have been dyed with the reddish colour from Henna. The Jewish culture also has certain rituals involving the application of henna. The Jews in Algeria apply henna on the feet and hands of a sick and later he is taken somewhere close to a natural water body. The dried henna is thrown into the water and family members pray to the Gods to heal him.
However, it is evident from the stone sculptors of Bodhisattvas and other Jain and Hindu deities in the Ajanta and Ellora Caves in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra and similar caves in Sri Lanka that henna has been in use in the Indian sub-continent since the 4th and 5th centuries. In fact, in the 17th century the wives of barbers were employed to apply mehendi on women in India.
In the Hindu culture henna plays an important role in the lives of married women. There is a belief that applying henna on the hands of the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony strengthens the bond of love between the newly-weds. Mehndi artists often inscribe the names of the bride and groom on each other’s palms. There is also the belief that if the colour of the mehndi comes out dark, it depicts the deep live between the couple.
The Mehndi is also considered a part of the 16 steps to get ready as a bride known as Solah Sringaar. Mehndi design is also applied on the hands and feet of the bride because of its calming effect. Its application soothes the nerve endings on the hands and feet and relieves her of stress before the big day. It also gives the bride a chance to take it easy and relax before her wedding that naturally triggers much excitement and at times stress. In many cultures the bride is not allowed to step out of the house after the mehendi function till the day she gets married.
Relatives and friends of the couple also join the mehendi ceremony, adorning their hands with intricate designs. This tradition has in fact, turned application of mehendi into a booming business in the modern times. There are artistes, who specializes in the art of mehendi and are quite in demand at present. A mehendi artist can make anything ranging from a few thousands to a few lakhs during a wedding in India, depending on her customer base and intricacy and range of the designs she makes.
There are many forms of mehendi designs. The Indian designs mainly comprise of intricate lacy floral and paisley patterns together with fine lines of varied motifs. The Arabic designs are mostly larger and consist of floral patterns. On the other hand, African designs are large and bold, consisting of geometric patterns and the colour of the henna is black rather than the reddish colour.
Mehendi application is not just confined to Indian weddings, it has much prominence in weddings in the Middle East and also few South-East Asian countries like Malaysia.
Meanwhile, even in India mehendi is not a part of the culture of most of the Northeastern states like Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, some parts of Manipur and Sikkim as these states comprise mostly of Christian and Buddhist population.
In Assam there is the culture of applying mehendi in hands mainly during the festivity of Bihu. The henna leaves are crushed and simply applied all over the palms and finger tips. However, with mehendi art becoming popular now Assamese weddings have also incorporated it to a great extent. However, the Assamese groom refrains from applying mehendi design on his palms. Similarly, mehendi also forms part of the wedding tradition in Tripura with its large Bengali population.
Henna is also seen as a beauty product. Since ages people in many places across the globe have been using it to naturally dye their hair. It gives a reddish tinge to the hair and is believed to be a great hair conditioner. With artificial colours folding the markets, women now throng to beauty saloons to highlight or colour their hair, which brings along a lot of side effects like pre-mature aging of hair, rough brittle hair and even hair fall. These artificial colours contain harmful chemicals that damage the hair, when used extensively.
However, the good old henna has no known side effects and is a sure winner. Henna is also mixed with other natural ingredients like eggs, coffee, black and green tea liquor, curd, Indian gooseberry or amla, etc when applied on the hair for a smooth shiny texture and bounce.
Also Read: Traditional Assam Food One Must Try While Visiting the State
Types of Mehndi Designs that you will fall in love with:
Lotus Mehndi Designs
Arabic Mehndi Designs
Finger Mehndi Designs
Evergreen Mehndi Designs for Legs
Full Front & Back Mehndi Designs
Mehndi Designs for Kids
To experience the more fun and joyous moments out of your festival days or even some special occasions, you need to take complete care of two basic things. One is the outfits you wear for the day and another is mehndi designs in your front hands.
The two things can offer you a personality boost as well as spend your day in a healthy mood. In India, many girls are already good at choosing fine outfits but failed to find one classic mehndi design for the front hand.
If you are one among them, just stay away from your worries and head to this blog post till the end to read out front hand mehndi design ideas with images.