Mehndi (Henna)…an emerging Art of Today

Mehndi or Mehendi

Mehndi or Mehendi is a form of Body Art from Ancient India, in which decorative designs are created on a person’s body, using a paste, created from the powdered dry leaves of the Henna plant (lawsania inermis). Ancient in origin, mehndi is still a popular form of body art among the women of the Indian Subcontinent , Africa and the Middle East.

The use of mehndi and Turmeric is described in the earliest Hindu Vedic ritual books. It was originally used for only women’s palms and sometimes for men. Haldi (staining oneself with turmeric paste) as well as mehndi are the form of Vedic Customs , intended to be a symbolic representation of the outer and the inner Sun. Vedic customs are centred on the idea of “awakening the inner light“. Traditional Indian designs are representations of the sun on the palm.

There are many variations including Arabic, Indian and Pakistani designs. Women usually apply mehndi designs to their hands and feet.

While there is some controversy over the origins of the use of henna leaf powder as a dying agent, the earliest clear evidence of henna powder application on the body appears in Egyptianmummies whose hair and nails were stained with the reddish brown tones of henna. Botanists believe the henna plant, Lawsonia inermis, originated in Egypt and was carried regularly to India where it was used since at least 700 AD for decorating hands and feet.

Mehndi decorations became fashionable in the West in the late 1990s, where they are called henna tattoos.

Mehndi in Indian tradition is typically applied during special Hindu Weddings & Hindu festivals like Karva Chauth , Vat Purnima , Diwali , Bhai Doj and Teej.

For women, it is usually drawn on the palm, back of the hand and on feet, where the design will be clearest due to contrast with the lighter skin on these surfaces, which naturally contain less of the pigment Melanin . Some Muslims in Indian Subcontinent also make use of it during Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha .

In the modern age and even due to limited supply of Indian Traditional Mehndi artists usually people buy ready-made Henna cones, which are ready to use and make painting easy. However, in rural areas in India, women grind fresh henna leaves on grinding stones with added oil, which though not as refined as professionally prepared henna cones, achieves much darker colors.

I have compiled the information from different sources with my own words to make the article palatable for myreaders with pictures I took during a Marriage ceremony of my own relative very recently.

Thanks for going through the article & I am quite sure if you are from Asia may be it will remind you of your own wedding .


2 Comments Add yours

  1. womeNEWera says:

    Nice article on mehndi.. I have also posted an article on bridal Haldi ceremony

    1. PhotoBySiba says:

      I will check you’s too 😎

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