Henna painting or also known as Mehndi is a natural form of adornment that has beautified the hands and feet of many women, especially brides. These henna paintings maintain their rich red- almost maroon- shade for a few days or even weeks. The intricate designs are created by combining motifs and geometric shapes or floral patterns. Henna body art form is originated from India. Henna is also common in Middle East and Pakistan. However, Arabic henna is more striking because of its almost black hue that stands out more compared to its dark red Indian counterpart. Let’s learn more about this beautiful art.
History of Henna
With origins from the culture of an Ancient India, henna spread to Middle East countries. It is believed that the henna plant originated in Egypt. It was used to dye the nails and hair during the mummification of dead pharaohs. This ritual was thought to bring good fortune in their next life. In Islam, making use of henna is compulsory due to the narration of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Women use henna to color their finger and toe nails too. It is also used during auspicious occasions like Eid and weddings.
Preparation and Application
Henna paintings are applied through a cone filled with paste. Some choose to apply it with a toothpick. The paste is made of plucked henna leaves that are left out to dry in the sun. These dried leaves are ground to a powder, sieved and mixed with lemon juice, tea water and certain other ingredients to make a smooth paste. This paste is left for around 12 hours for the tiny leaf particles to release the dye. After application the Henna paintings are left to dry for roughly 3 to 5 hours depending on the thickness of the design. Most brides prefer to leave it overnight to achieve a richer color.
Henna Painting Traditions
1. Saudi Arabia
There is a customary pre-wedding henna decoration party where the bride’s hands are decorated by a happily married female relative. This is thought to bring good fortune for the bride.
Henna is used to adorn the hands and feet of the brides before the wedding ceremony. The designs are ritually chosen by the groom’s womenfolk. Apart from that, Henna is also applied during the Eid festivals.
Henna decorates the hands of Muslim, Hindu and Sikh brides during wedding ceremonies. There’s an interesting litmus test that says the darker the color of the henna on the bride, the more her husband will love her. Good theory grandma!
Women adorn their neck, hands, arms and feet for weddings, Eid and other occasions. Somalis are also famous for the simple pattern of painting a circle in their palms and dipping the tips of their fingers in henna to achieve a capped effect.
Now that you are all hyped up about Henna and would love to try some gorgeous Arabic designs, you can book one of our Desert Safari Tours that offer free henna paintings.