South Asian weddings are spread over several days with each day marked by auspicious events with deep spiritual and religious meaning. The mehndi ceremony is one such vibrant tradition that is celebrated in most South Asian cultures.
The mehndi ceremony is traditionally held a few nights before the wedding to wish the bride good health and prosperity as she enters a new phase of her life. This ceremony is celebrated in the bride’s house or a function hall with relatives and friends participating in it. Sometimes as well as the bride, relatives and friends adorn themselves in mehndi to join in on the tradition. Mehndi is drawn with a decorative paste derived from the henna plant, the artwork represents good luck and positive spirits.
Mehndi as well as being decorative is known to have therapeutic effects. It is a medicinal herb that has a cooling effect on the body. The henna is usually applied on both hands and feet of the bride, thereby cooling the nerve ends and helping the bride to relax before the big day.
During the ceremony you will find the bride waiting patiently for the mehndi artist to draw intricate designs on her hands and feet. The artwork can be inspired by Vedic, Arabic and modern designs or a mix of all three.
Mehndi (Hindi), also known as Henna in Arabic, and Chinah in Hebrew, is a dye prepared from the plant Lawsonia inermis, also known as hina, the henna tree, the mignonette tree, and the Egyptian privet – Wikipedia
A lot of myths are associated with this ceremony, one of the most popular is the belief that the darker the color of the mehndi, the more love the bride will receive from her husband. Some brides have the grooms name hidden within the mehndi design, and task the groom with finding it on the wedding day!
These small beliefs and myths make mehndi a jovial ceremony that people look forward to celebrating.
Both the bride and groom’s family have tons of fun coming together for this auspicious ceremony. The evening is spent dancing, playing traditional music, and having a lot of banter. Of course, there is good food and sweets to add to the celebration.
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Mehndi Inspiration & Tips
Here are some essential tips from one of our favourite mehndi artists in Melbourne, Fadziies Mehndi & Beauty to help prepare for your mehndi ceremony.
- Be comfortable with the person you choose as your artist, you’ll be sitting there for hours, you would want a good relationship; someone you can talk to and have a good laugh with.
- Your mehndi is just as important as your makeup, always choose a design you’re happy with.
- Remember, moisturisers and oils should be avoided on the day of your mehndi, as it becomes a barrier for henna staining.
- Always have a best friend or go to person who can feed you and most importantly HELP YOU USE THE BATHROOM! Your hands will be occupied!
- Ensure your artist only uses natural henna, what can be worse than a burn on your wedding day? Or washed out orange henna? Good quality henna will give you a beautiful stain, which also has a calming effect.
- I’m a big believer in mehndi consultations, this allows you to explain the depth of what you would like in your mehndi, personalised designs are so much more meaningful to you.
- Remember to leave your mehndi on for as long as you can, the longer you leave your mehndi, the darker your stain will be.
- Avoid water for 18-24 hours. Also, allow 2-3 days for your mehndi to be at its peak. Remember, your mehndi should be done at least 2-3 days before.
- I recommend starting the bride’s mehndi earlier during the day, this allows the bride to be done before the guests and enjoy her night. Nothing worse than having your mehndi artist in all your photos!
- Avoid having hair on the areas you want your design on, I always find hair can be hard to work henna on as it moves with the paste, the smoother the canvas the prettier the work.
- Be dressed before your mehndi starts, it’s easier for you as well as the artist.
- Don’t use cling wrap to cover your mehndi, this will only spread and smudge it.
Lastly, be stress free. You’re the bride, you’re being pampered. Your mehndi ceremony is a time when you should be most relaxed. Delegate all the stressful work to someone you trust and enjoy the beauty of mehndi!
Henna art featured in this article and the tips provided are courtesy of Melbourne mehndi artist Fadziies Mehndi & Beauty. For more information on this vendors services check out the links below!