Today Mehndi is worn joyously by many cultures, including Jewish, Hindu and Mulsim. Though their individual customs may vary, the basis of the art is the same.
Mehndi, or henna, is applied on the skin as adornment for ceremonial customs and rites of passage. There are many occasions where henna is worn and loved. If you're interested in learning about how to get started in the world of mehndi art, you can find resources at the bottom of this page that will guide you as well.
What Is Henna?
The temporary art of henna began over 5,000 years ago in both India and Africa, when leaves from the henna plant were mixed into a paste. You can mix water, eucalyptus oil, and even tea or coffee with henna to make the paste. Early users of henna applied small dots of this mixture onto the palms of their hands in effort to cool their bodies.
Over time, these small dots became more elaborate, and soon flowers and vines and intricate patterns were painted onto the skin with the same purpose as to cool, but with their added significant beauty. Soon began the symbolism of the designs and their relation to special occasions. The art of mehndi painting became a beloved ritual that is now practiced for decorative and spiritual purposes.
Placement and Hue of Henna Designs
No matter where you place it, henna is usually considered good luck. Does the placement or the color of a henna design have any relation to its meaning? Yes it can.
Henna started on the hands and feet and that is where henna designs are mostly worn, especially for celebrations.
Symbolizing the evolution from virgin into woman, henna is applied on the hands and feet of brides-to-be throughout the Muslim and Indian cultures in a Mehndi ceremony. These events take place several days before the actual wedding day, and all members of the family, as well as guests, are usually painted.
There are many myths and tales that surround henna. Indian brides look to henna as a clue to whether or not she'll be accepted by her new family. The darker the hue, the better the potential fit with her future mother-in-law.
Indian women often have their bestowed husband's name painted into an ornate design as part of a fun wedding game. If he's able to find his name within her henna tattoo, legend says he'll control the marriage. If not, she keeps command.
During a Blessingway, mehndi is applied on the belly of an expectant mother to help ward off any evil spirits from her and the baby, during both the third trimester and the delivery. These small gatherings are similar to a baby shower and can even have a fun Moroccan theme.
Why People Mehndi
In addition to the many myths and legends associated with the color and intensity of henna dye and their unique designs, mehndi is a bonding experience for both the bearer and the artist. Many women partake in the rituals of henna to strengthen their female connections and to celebrate the beauty of the art, as mehndi is both intimate and relaxing.
Where to Get a Henna TattooYou'll find henna artists at most outdoor festivals and concert events, and you can choose from many varied design templates, including mandalas and floral designs that add artful curve to your body.
Henna artists also freelance, and many will design custom pieces as well, should you want to incorporate a significant design or symbol into a henna tattoo. If you'd like to book a henna artist, you can find one in your phonebook or search the national Artists' Directory located here to schedule a private event.
Learn How to Mehndi
If you have a steady hand and a love of drawing intricate and detailed pieces, becoming a henna artist may be an interesting venture for you. Once you've learned the art of henna, you can take your knowledge of ancient symbols and designs anywhere and begin earning some fruit for your labor.
The following resources can help you get started in the world of mehndi art.