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
A Rajasthani lady applying Mehendi on Hand 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.

Mostly popular in the states of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh, Mehndi is believed to be auspicious, and different patterns are drawn on hands and feet of women before any festivals,

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.
 

Mehendi (Henna) markings on feet
 

A beautiful pattern of Mehendi (Henna) markings on hand

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.
 

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