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Henna: An Age-Old Indian Tradition

Henna: An Age-Old Indian Tradition

Known to have medicinal and dying properties in its the leaves, the use of Henna can be dated back to the Bronze Age and till today, once mixed, Mehndi, which is the application of henna, is an interim form of skin decoration. Mehndi holds a lot of importance in the Indian culture and is considered an essential for the great Indian wedding saga.

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Typically, in the contemporary world, Mehndi can be described as patterns that are drawn out with henna to embellish the palms and feet. It is a temporary way of decorating the skin. Mehndi is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘mendhikā’ and is believed to be in use since the 12th century. Mehndi came into use because of its cooling therapeutic effect in hot climates. Both men and women in countries such as India, Morocco, and Pakistan use this traditional form of embellishment.


Mehndi is an Indian pre-wedding ceremony, on which day henna is applied on the hands of the bride-to-be, symbolizing love for his husband-to-be. Families of the bride and groom get together on the eve of the wedding, for women, especially the bride, to be beautified with intricate patterns of mehndi, with traditional music in the backdrop. A variety of traditions also follow this custom, including wedding games and legends. For instance, the groom’s name is usually written somewhere in the bride’s Mehndi and if he cannot find his name within the intricate design, the bride is said to have the control in the marriage.


Mehndi has spread outside the borders of India and has become extremely popular in the Western countries by musicians and Hollywood personalities. In the West, Mehendi is commonly known as henna tattoos.

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