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Beautiful Henna/Mehendi Designs by Priyanka ,  Apr 29, 2013
Although Mehendi is generally used in many Hindu festivals and celebrations, there's no doubt that the Hindu wedding ceremony has become synonymous with this beautiful reddish dye.

What is Mehendi?

Mehendi (Lawsonia inermis) is a small tropical shrub, whose leaves when dried and ground into a paste, give out a rusty-red pigment, suitable for making intricate designs on the palms and feet. The dye has a cooling property, and no side effects on the skin. Mehendi is extremely suitable for creating intricate patterns on various parts of the body, and a painless alternative to permanent tattoos.

Mehndi or Mehandi is derived from the Sanskrit word mendhikā.[1] The use of mehndi and turmeric is described in the earliest Hinduism's Vedic ritual books. Haldi (staining oneself with turmeric paste) as well as mehndi are Vedic customs, intended to be a symbolic representation of the outer and the inner sun. Vedic customs are centered around the idea of "awakening the inner light". Traditional Indian designs are of representations of the sun on the palm, which, in this context, is intended to represent the hands and feet.

mehndi also known as henna in the western world is the application of as a temporary form of skin decoration, practiced mainly India and Nepal. Popularized by Indian cinema and entertainment industry Bollywood, the people in Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives as well as by expatriate communities from those countries also use Mehandi. This tradition has spreaded to exist among some Arab Women particularly the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf nationals. Mehndi decorations became fashionable in the West in the late 1990s, where they are sometimes called henna tattoos.

Mehendi History

The Mughals brought Mehendi to India as lately as the 15th century AD. As the use of Mehendi spread, its application methods and designs became more sophisticated. The tradition of Henna or Mehendi originated in North Africa and the Middle East. It is believed to have been in use as a cosmetic for the last 5000 years. According to professional henna artist and researcher Catherine C Jones, the beautiful patterning prevalent in India today has emerged only in the 20th century. In 17th century India, the barber's wife was usually employed for applying henna on women. Most women from that time in India are depicted with their hands and feet hennaed, regardless of social class or marital status.

It's Cool & Fun!

The varied use of Mehendi by the rich and royal from very early times has made it popular with the masses, and its cultural importance has grown ever since. Mehendi's popularity lies in its fun value. It's cool and appealing! It's painless and temporary! No lifetime commitment like real tattoos, no artistic skills required!

Mehendi in the West

The introduction of Mehendi into Euro-American culture is a recent phenomenon. Today Mehendi, as trendy alternative to tattoos, is an in-thing in the West. Hollywood actors and celebrities have made this painless art of body painting famous. Actress Demi Moore, and 'No Doubt' crooner Gwen Stefani were among the first to sport Mehendi. Since then stars like Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Naomi Campbell, Liv Tyler, Nell McAndrew, Mira Sorvino, Daryl Hannah, Angela Bassett, Laura Dern, Laurence Fishburne, and Kathleen Robertson have all tried Henna tattoos, the great Indian way. Glossies, like Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Wedding Bells, People and Cosmopolitan have spread the Mehendi trend even further.

Mehndi is a ceremonial art form which originated in ancient India. Intricate patterns of mehndi are typically applied to brides before wedding ceremonies. The bridegroom is also painted in some parts of India. In Rajasthan, the grooms are given designs that are often as elaborate as those for brides. In Assam, apart from marriage, it is broadly used by unmarried women during Rongali bihu, but there are no restrictions on its use by married women.

Muslims in India also started to use it as an indication of coming of age. Henna is now also used in some Gulf States, where the night before the wedding night is dedicated to decorating the bride with henna, and called "Henna night". In the Middle East and Africa, it is common for women to apply henna to their fingernails and toenails and to their hands.

Some Muslims also use henna as a dye for their hair and for the beards of males - intended to follow the presumed tradition of their prophet, Muhammad, who is said to have used turmeric dye in his beard. In one narration by him, he encouraged Muslim women to dye their nails with henna so their hands could be distinguished from the hands of a male

In Africa, henna was used as part of spiritual practices by tribes to decorate their bodies and for protective purposes when certain symbols/designs were incorporated.

As a result, some African countries like Somalia, henna is applied to women and girls during Eid, weddings, and visits to important people or relatives.[citation needed]. In most countries, Henna is seen as a way for women to beautify themselves (as jewels), so is well decorated and applied with good care

Henna paste is usually applied on the skin using a plastic cone or a paint brush, but sometimes a small metal-tipped jacquard[disambiguation needed] bottle used for silk painting (a jac bottle) is employed. After about 15–20 minutes, the mud will dry and begin to crack, and during this time, a mixture of lemon juice and white sugar can be applied over the henna design to remoisten the henna mud so that the henna will stain darker. The painted area is then wrapped with tissue, plastic, or medical tape to lock in body heat, creating a more intense colour on the skin. The wrap (not a traditional method), is worn for 3 to 6 hours, or sometimes overnight and then removed. When first removed, the henna design is pale to dark orange in colour and gradually darkens through oxidation, over the course of 24 to 72 hours. The final color is reddish brown and can last anywhere from one to three weeks depending on the quality and type of henna paste applied, as well as where it was applied on the body (thicker skin stains darker and longer than thin skin). Moisturizing with natural oils, such as olive, sesame seed, or coconut, will also help extend the lifetime of the stain. Skin exfoliation causes the henna tattoo to fade.
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