One of the most beautiful traditions for Indian brides is a traditional Solah Shringar or 16 Adornments. Many Indian brides hear about this from their mothers and grandmothers and wait for the day when it will be their turn to go through the elaborate rituals that are a rite of passage for an Indian woman. One of the most important rituals for an Indian bride and an integral part of the Solah Shringar is the application of henna or mehndi.
Mehndi, consisting of intricate designs is applied to hands and feet of both the bride and groom and to other members of the wedding party. The henna is generally applied 24 hours before the wedding ceremony to allow it to thoroughly dry. The henna paste which is made from the powdered leaves of the henna tree (Lawsonia inermis), acts as a temporary tattoo on the skin.
According to English mehndi artist and fashion blogger, Madiha Jamil, 30, of Ethnic Trendz salon, in Waterloo Street, Burton, the intricate designs that are used in traditional weddings in not only Indian but some Asian and African cultures, can take as long as 5 – 6 hours or as little as 25 – 30 minutes depending on what the bride wants.
The henna designs are left to dry for 24 or even 48 hours then can be flaked or washed off. What are left behind are beautiful designs that are in a reddish or dark mahogany color. For Indian weddings, red is a most auspicious color and the deeper the stain of the henna, it is believed the deeper the love will be between the couple getting married.
With proper care, the mehndi can last between 2 – 3 weeks. Because the skin on the hands and feet is more porous and is usually devoid of hair, it absorbs the color much better and faster than on other areas of the skin.
The use of henna for body adornment and as a skin and hair treatment goes back for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians were well versed in the use of henna even before the time of Cleopatra and it has been used in other parts of Africa, Arabia, and Asia as well as India and Pakistan. One traditional belief is that a bride may be exempt from doing housework for as long as the mehndi on her hands is visible.
Jamil finds that the styles differ through the various parts of the world. She finds that Indian designs which use many Paisley and even figural drawings in them tend to be the most intricate while designs from Africa will be thicker and can be applied in thicker lines with a broader applicator tube.
Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the cooling effect that henna seems to have on the rest of the body. In hot countries, keeping cool, especially during long ceremonies is important. When applying mehndi to her clients, Jamil only uses the finest pure henna with a little oil and some mint mixed in to also add to the cooling effect.
A tradition is that an Indian bride will have the name of her husband incorporated into her henna designs somewhere on her body. The groom will then have the task of having to find it on their wedding night.
“One trend I have seen recently is that lots of brides now get their husband’s name on the underside of their thumb, to say their husband is going to be under their thumb!” Jamil said.
A traditional Indian wedding can take a great deal of planning to get every detail just right. Indian weddings are often full of colors and brightness and setting the scene for that special day is important. When planning your traditional wedding, call Geri Simms at Atlanta Wedding Décor. Geri is an expert in wedding and special event drapery to make your wedding into an incredible fantasy to remember. Contact us today for an appointment or quote for your wedding or event.