Ed’s Note: This post was written by Contributing Editor, Kate Derrick.
Mehndi is a paste made from powdered dried leaves of the henna plant (Lawsonia Inermis). The henna plant is believed to bring love and good fortune, and protect against evil. Henna also has cooling properties and henna art is sometimes used to help cool the body.
It is thought that Mehndi was brought to India by the Mughals in the 12th century. It is used mostly in India and Nepal but also Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, the Middle East and Africa. Ancient Egyptians also used henna.
A ceremonial art form, Mehndi is most widely known for its use on special Hindu occasions such as weddings and festivals. Mehndi is usually applied to the palms of the hands and the feet. It’s typically applied to brides before wedding ceremonies.
It was difficult to get to the bottom of the meaning of the Mehndi patterns, probably because there are so many meanings. Some meanings include the representation of the outer and the inner sun, centred around the idea of awakening the inner light, fertility, good luck, protection, and the bond of love between the bride and groom.
Mehndi has been popularised in recent times by Bollywood.
It’s said that even Hindu Gods can be seen wearing Mehndi.