Sunday, December 31, 2006

Henna or Mehndi - a symbol of tradition and joy

pic: sonali sokal

Henna or Mehndi is a traditional form of body painting which uses a natural dye made from leaves of the Henna / Mehndi plant.

Henna or Mehndi is the leaf of the dwarf shrub that is dried and powdered, and then made into a paste. The plant grows in warm climates like the Indian sub-continent, parts of Africa and in Middle Eastern countries. Henna is intertwined with many intriguing traditions and cultures, dating as far back as Egypt during ancient times, where it was known to have been applied to the toes and fingers of the deceased Pharaohs before mummification. The paste is even used to ward off evil spirits.

The tradition of applying Henna traveled to the Indian Subcontinent from Arabia hundreds of years back, when the Muslim rulers came to rule in India. This remains an important part of culture in the Islamic belt that spreads from the Middle East and goes beyond to the Far East. It has flourished in the Subcontinent both under Muslim and Hindu rules for ages. In Indian subcontinent, a wedding is incomplete without a mehndi ceremony. Henna symbolises fertility, and at weddings, it depicts the love between a husband and wife.

Henna's traditional decorating purposes vary from culture to culture. The most popular traditional use is tied closely with bridal preparation, weddings and Eid. It is the night before Eid, when the auspicious crescent has been sighted, women pool together in their living rooms in an atmosphere of merriment to apply mehendi in intricate patterns on each other’s hands and feet.

In modern days, most often, the Henna paste is prepared with tea, coffee, lemon juice, sugar and clove oils to create different hues. Cones are commercially available for use as opposed to applying it with sticks, which make designs more detailed and intricate. Designs vary from country to country. Henna is also applied in a thick layer on the palms.

Besides the aesthetic element, Henna is believed to hold special medicinal value. It is said to soothe dry skin, heal certain skin diseases, and reduce swelling.


Anonymous said...

Bonne année, bonne santé
"Le temps passe, les années filent. Quand une nouvelle année commence, on se demande toujours si elle apportera la paix et le bonheur à chacun... Fermez les yeux et faites un voeu !"

Good year, good health
time passes, the years slip by. When a new year starts, one always wonders if it will bring peace and happiness to each one… Close the eyes and make a wish!

I love Bangladesh : ] said...

henna is very beautiful & traditional!

Anonymous said...

where can i find heena mehndi in dhaka??

Anonymous said...

Τhanks in favor of sharіng suсh а
pleaѕаnt thinkіng, artіcle is nice, thаts why i have геad it completely

Ηere іs my homеpage - lowes garden center