Guest Post: The Meaning of Mehndi
Recently, Leia of Leia’s Delights wrote a guest post for G&G about The Stunning, Sensual Sari after I read a post on her blog about the traditional dress of her culture. I asked Leia if she’d be willing to share more because I have been fascinated by the beauty of the sari for years. Along the way, I came to know Tanvi of The Fabulous Life of Not-So-Rich and Infamous, and in exploring her blog, I saw some incredible photos of Tanvi at her wedding and I immediately wanted to know more about another mysterious and magnificent aspect of Hindu culture: mehndi.
Tanvi agreed to explain this custom, and I am so grateful. Thank you Tanvi!
Relevance of Mehndi in Hindu Traditions
Mehndi (also known as Henna in Urdu) is an important part of Hindu tradition. Wedding being one of the most importantoccasions in any girl’s life is also referred to as haath peele karna (an idiom) which can be translated as “to color a girl’s hand yellow,” i.e. to get her married. One of the symbolic references of mehndi is fertility. Therefore it shouldn’t be any surprise that the mehndi application ceremony, simply called Mehndi Ki Raat, is celebrated in full galore and grandeur. This ceremony is often combined withSangeet [which] translates as “music,” and hence makes it a night full of music, dance and feasting.
This ceremony is usually held one night before the wedding. The application of the mehndi on a bride’s hand (starting from the elbows) and feet (starting from below the knees) takes no less than 6-to-7 hours. Family and friends also apply one of the simpler designs of mehndi to celebrate with the bride-to-be.
One of the myths (just for fun, really!) involved with mehndi is that the darker the color of mehndi would be, the more your husband-to-be would love you. That is the reason why, even after its application the mehndi is kept on overnight to get a deeper, darker color on the palms. Traditionally, after her marriage, a girl does not indulge in any household work till the mehndi fades out completely (giving more time to the bride to get to know her husband and new family). For several centuries Indian marriages have been arranged by their parents and/or elders, thus such small rituals gave more time for couples to spend time together and built their marriage.
There after mehndi is applied on all important occasions and festivals. More than anything, it’s application is considered seemly and auspicious.
Below are the images from the mehndi ceremony where the mehndi is still on the hands (scraping off a little, as it’s dry).
This is the next day (the wedding day) so the mehndi is completely scraped-off now and you can see the deep brown color.
Thanks again, Tanvi for the lovely examples and explanation! You can follow The Fabulous Life of Not-So-Rich and Infamous on Bloglovin’.