Mehndi or Mehandi is derived from the Sanskrit word mendhikā. 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.
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.. 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