ehndi is the traditional art of adorning the hands and feet with a
paste made from the ground leaves of the Mehndi (henna) plant. Henna is a
small shrub called Hawsonia Inermis, which grows in hot climates. The
leaves, flowers, and twigs are ground into a fine powder. When mixed with hot
||water, this green powder forms a reddish dye. Other shades are also
obtainable by mixing henna leaves with the leaves of other plants, such as
Indigo. Tea, coffee, cloves, tamarind, lemon, sugar, and various oils are also
used to enhance the colour and longevity of design.
The origin of the use of henna is not known for certain, but what is known for
sure is that henna has been used as a cosmetic, as well as for its
supposed healing properties for at least 5000 years. There is some
historical evidence to support that Mehndi as an art form may have
originated in ancient India. However, some sources claim that the use of henna
was brought to India by the Moguls in the 12th Century.
With the passing of centuries, Mehndi has gained its significance in Indian
culture. Besides its healing properties, it is mostly used to decorate and
beautify hands and feet of a woman. Each intricate pattern on the skin
has its own unique designs, inspired by indigenous fabrics, the local
architecture, natural environment, and individual cultural experiences.
popular in the states of
Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh, Mehndi is believed
to be auspicious, and different patterns are drawn
on hands and feet of women before any
especially Teej. A
would be bride can also be recognized easily by her beautifully decorated
palms and feet.
In North India, these intricate designs are developed around peacock,
butterfly, and fish images, which are completed with finely
detailed patterns. The effect is that of a lace glove, as great attention is
given to filling in the gaps that surround the main motif. Religious
symbols are incorporated, such as the Doli- a form of hand-pulled
carriage, which was used to transport the bride from her home to her in-laws'
house in the days before cars. The lotus is also popular.
|In south India, a circular pattern is drawn and filled in the center of
the palm. Later a cap is formed on the fingers, as if they had been dipped in
Mehndi. This design was mostly used in early days when cones (similar
to icing bags) were not available. The use of cones in applying the Mehedi
has simplified the drawing of intricate patterns. However for those, who do
not know the difficult art of applying Mehndi, thin plastic stencils
can be bought cheaply in the bazaars.
Now days most of the beauty parlours have designers, who charge a
handsome amount for applying Mehndi freehand. In big cities and towns it has
become a trend to visit these parlours for Henna markings, which once
applied, can't be washed off, but gradually fades after about 10 days.