Henna, also known as Mendhi, is an integral part of Indian culture and is a stunning array of intricate designs on the body.
What is Henna
Henna is a paste that is culturally associated with positive spirits and good luck. It’s primarily used for decorative reasons. Henna leaves, from a bush called Lawsonia Inermis, are dehydrated and crushed to form henna powder. Water is added to the powder to create a thick henna paste.
The History of Henna
The tradition of Henna actually originated in North Africa and the Middle East. The Mughals brought Henna to India around 15th century AD. At this time, Henna was much more basic than the designs you often see today. Typically, in 17th century Indian, the barber’s wife would apply henna on women on women’s feet and hands. The beautiful patterning became more popular in the 20th century, which then became synonymous with Indian beauty and make up culture.
How Henna is used
Henna is commonly associated with weddings. In fact, traditional Indian weddings have a Mehndi Ceremony the night before the wedding. This is to wish the bride well, good health, and prosperity before embarking upon married life. Henna even has healing properties, which is why it first started as part of a bridal ceremony. In the ancient era, henna paste was used to provide help for blood circulation. Also, as the paste is cooling and added to the hands and the feet of the bride, is signifies cooling the nerve endings of the body in order to help with nervous feelings. There are also some urban legends with Henna application. A deeply coloured design is considered a good sign for a new couple. Amongst Hindu women, it’s a common belief that the dark the henna, the more her mother-in-law will love her!
Nowadays, henna is often used not just in weddings but other ceremonies and celebrations in a variety of different designs with stunning results.