One of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies in Indian marriages is the mehndi ki Raat. As Haldi ceremony symbolizes cleanliness, Mehndi signifies Beauty. Mehndi holds plenty of cultural significance in Indian traditions. The beautiful bride-to-be adorns her hands and feet with striking designs made out of henna. In today’s era of modernization, mehndi artists come up with new and trending designs of mehndi adding glamour to it and making it enjoyable. Arabic Mehndi, Rajasthani Mehndi, Crystal Mehndi, Tattoo Mehndi, with the standard Indian Mehndi there are a lot of other well-known styles of mehndi. One entire ceremony dedicated to its celebration popularly called ‘Mehndi Ceremony’. It is often a private affair along with close relatives, buddies and loved ones, celebrated amidst a lot of dancing and feasting. The atmosphere is imbued along with dholak beats, singing of standard songs when the mehndi is being applied on the bride’s hands and legs by bridal mehndi artists. This ceremony is performed by families of both the Indian bride and the groom.
Mehndi promotes domestic bliss, therefore making it a perfect custom to follow right before the wedding. Also because of its positive effects on building a home, mehndi is considered to be an essence of auspiciousness.
Some Popular beliefs related to Mehndi:
The word mehndi is derived from the Sanskrit word “mehndhika”. Mehndi usage was described in the Vedas along with turmeric. Mehndi is said to represent the outer and inner sun in the human body and the earth plane. So, the usage of mehndi goes deeper and it is not just limited to beautification although that too is a good side benefit. It is written in the Vedas that the mehndi ceremony is about awakening the inner light before the sacred bond of marriage is tied with another soul. Hence, the traditional mehndi design in those days used to be a central sun that was drawn at the palm of the person’s hand. It was drawn on both feet as well. Later as times progressed we created more motifs and toyed with different patterns on the hands.
Apart from Indian culture, Egyptians also practised use of Mehndi. The Egyptian mummies that were discovered by the scientists had stains of brownish dye on them which were later found to be mehndi.
Medicinal Properties of Mehndi:
Clearly, the wedding day jitters cause headaches that can be easily avoided by the bride as she does her mehndi.
Present trends in Mehndi:
Although times have changed and a lot of new inclusions have been made in Indian weddings, the significance of the mehndi ceremony has grown in stature. Nowadays people bring in DJs to play songs and celebrations that go on until late in the night.
If something has changed about the ceremony, it is the designs and patterns. While only intricate Indian designs were traditionally applied in the past, brides today are experimenting with Arabic designs and Indo-Arabic designs and mixing shimmer pastes along with the traditional mehndi paste. Each beautiful design has degrees of intricacy and can be made unique for the bride. These intricate design patterns are now quite popular among brides, worldwide. Semiprecious stones are also embedded in the design.
It is a tradition to write the name of the groom on the bride’s palm. In some regions, this is also a small ritual after the wedding. The groom is made to search for his name, which is usually smartly written so as not be readily visible. This is a fun ice-breaking game for the couple, which also helps them to establish some intimacy.
The mehndi ceremony is a reflection of the rich Indian culture, bringing together many lovely sentiments and beliefs. The result is a ceremony filled with fun and joy and the perfect precursor to the auspicious wedding day.