We have perhaps the most flamboyant and colorful weddings, which in my opinion, are not ached by any other community or society in the world. Our weddings are not boring. It is one big patty full of colors, songs and dances, lasting over many days. The few days before the big day are planned and organized with a whole variety of activities on each of the evenings. We also have many delightful and classy dishes on our menus preparation for which starts many days before the big day itself. A traditional Pakistani wedding is one that lasts for many days and in those days, there’s a very special and colorful occasion often called Mehndi” or” Rasm-e-Hina”. It is the day in which the henna is applied on the brides and, in rare cases, on the groom’s hands.
Mehndi is not synonymous with the western wedding but is now huge business in the western world with the likes of Madonna, Darryl Hanna, Prince and Demi Moore to name just a few who have been seen in public Mehndi tattoos on parts of their anatomies and guess where they got the idea from?
Mehndi is a short tern tattoo, and not something that will be stuck with for the rest of your life on your hands, just because you wanted the so-called tradition to be fulfilled on your wedding. This is a tattoo that you can have as often as you like, even if it is not your wedding or a wedding of someone really close to you. Girls often apply henna on their hands on many special occasions such as Eid or engagement. The Henna is made of all natural ingredients so you can be sure of not getting any harmful or cancerous elements in your skin. The application of Mehndi in our culture is a sign of a joyous occasion.
There are a lot of styles of Mehndi such as the Arabian style which does not look like a hodgepodge on your hands but looks very stylish and Elegant on your hands. Then there is Indian style which fills the whole hands and arms till the elbows and such beautiful designs that you can’t take your eyes off it. A part from that, I am sure that we all know and have seen Mehndi artists who are totally brilliant. Many Mehndi artists are Known to command fees from anywhere between Rupees 150 to 5000 just for one wedding.
But if considering the ultimate idea to make the bride, who is about to start a new life away from her family, feel like a princess. I think it’s worth it! Mehndi being applied at weddings used to be a small family affair with a handful of close family friends being invited to a small function at home a day or so before the wedding. But now it has gone public! It is not unusual to see a large hall being booked, with fancy floral Arrangements, huge guests’ lists and four or five course meals, including very loud DJ to entertain the guests. Mehndi traditionally used to be only applied to the bride but now the groom’s side also insist that it be applied on the groom too (any excuse for a party). It is at these ceremonies where the bride and groom are fed (and sometimes force fed — but in all good fun) with sweets or Mithai, by almost all senior members present. As well as being lavishly colorful cosmetic, Mehndi is also suppose to have many healing qualities as mentioned earlier in the article about its medicinal purposes.
Many herbal doctors still recommend the use of Mehndi for some ailments such as dry skin and to hasten the healing of cuts and scratches. It also acts as a hair conditioner when applied on the hair and is also known to stop hair.
Mehndi is suspected to have been brought to India by the Mughals in 12 A.D after it had been used for centuries in the Middle East and Africa. Some of the earliest documentation of Mehndi comes from ancient Egypt, where it was used as a dye to stain the fingers and toes prior to mummification.
Mehndi or henna comes in many different shades or colors, ranging from reddish-orange to brown black. Other colors available are usually artificially mixed and have dyes added to the natural henna, these usually do not last as long as the natural Mehndi. Natural Mehndi can last for anything between 1-2 weeks depending on the number of the times colored area is washed and on the body temperature. So if you need to get rid of Mehndi color quickly, wash the area often and stay in hot temperature as sweating will also increase its fading. Ready-made Mehndi is readily available from most shops in most countries, you an also buy ready made stencils to help to apply it. Usually professional Mehndi artists are hired to apply Mehndi, but it can be great fun if you do it yourself. So here are the steps of making henna and then applying it.