What Is Mehndi?
Mehndi is the word in Hindi used to describe henna, henna painting, and the resulting designs. Henna is a plant best known to us as a natural product used to color and condition the hair. Henna painting is an ancient cosmetic and healing art whereby the dried leaves of the henna plant are crushed into a powder, then made into a paste that is applied to the body to safely dye the skin. This is done in elaborate patterns and designs, traditionally on the hands and feet. The result is a kind of temporary tattoo, often reddish in color, which will last anywhere from several days to several weeks. The process is absolutely painless and in no way harmful to the skin. In fact, henna is said to condition the skin as it beautifies the body.
Mehndi is practiced in many parts of the world. From the deserts of North
Africa to the villages of northern India, magnificent designs blossom and vanish upon the hands and feet of women as they have for thousands of years. Most commonly associated with romantic love and the ritual of marriage, henna designs are an integral part of bridal adornment in Hindu, Moslem, and Sephardic traditions.
Mehndi is an art form that traditionally has been practiced exclusively by women. In North Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or any Indian or Moslem community, you will find women who decorate themselves with henna. It is taught and practiced largely in the oral tradition, with recipes and patterns passed from one generation to the next. Henna designs may be used in the East to celebrate a
special occasion, much the way one in the West might bake a cake or favorite holiday food. It’s that natural and that integral. But while mehndi retains an aura of festivity and well-being, it remains a sacred practice intended not just to beautify the body but to invite grace and good fortune into one’s home, one’s marriage, and one’s family. It is a kind of talisman, a blessing upon the skin.
Henna’s painting in its purest form is largely improvisational and intuitive. Ancient symbols and motifs are subject to the whim and imagination of the artist, and great emphasis is put on the singularity and originality of each interpretation.
This art has always involved a marriage of the personal and the traditional,
spreading slowly from one culture to another over thousands of years and taking on new meaning with each incarnation. Now we become a part of this evolution by discovering for ourselves what mehndi means today.
THE HENNA PLANT
Henna is the Persian name, now used in many languages, for a small flowering shrub (Lawsonia inermis) originally found in Australia and Asia and along the Mediterranean coasts of Africa. Also known as the mignonette tree or the Egyptian privet, it is grown as an ornamental in subtropical regions of the United States and has been naturalized in many countries throughout the world. The plant grows eight to ten feet high and is often found in India as a hedge surrounding gardens,
yards, or homes. The flower of the henna plant is small, white, four-petaled, and sweet-smelling. Although henna grows in a tropical climate, it does well in green-houses and is therefore available elsewhere.
There are many different kinds of henna plants. In northern India, there are two major varieties of henna. One has very large leaves and is known as Hina menhaden or menhaden. The other kind, known as Rajani, has smaller, more fragrant leaves and is said to give a much brighter color.
Because there are so many dialects in India, there are also many words other than mehndi used to denote henna: menhadi, mehendi, mehedi, mendi, and in Sanskrit mendika, to name just a few.
Other Collections of New Simple Mehndi Design 2018