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Henna Mehandi Aurora

Henna or Mehndi

Mehndi or Henna is an ancient form of art that has been practiced in the Middle East, India and parts of Africa for thousands of years. Mehndi is the art of applying pastes made with henna powder on hands, feet, arms and shins.

Mehndi or henna is prepared from the leaves of henna tree, also known as Lawsonia inermis, which stains our skin temporarily, and the longer you keep it on, the darker the color gets. Henna tree grows in hot and humid climate conditions. Mehndi is prepared by drying and grinding the henna leaves and stems into a smooth powder, then mixed with water to transform into a paste.

Henna paste is usually applied on the skin using a cone. The paste starts to dry in 15 to 30 minutes. After the removal of the dried paste, the henna design shows up as pale to dark orange in color. It gradually becomes darker through the process of oxidation in the next 24 hours that leaves a final reddish brown color and can last anywhere from one to two weeks, which also depends on the quality and type of henna paste and the part of the body it was applied on.

Types of Henna

There are four different styles for Henna designs. The Middle Eastern style mostly features large, floral patterns on hands and feet. The North African style is generally large and bold with geometrically patterned angles. The Indian and Pakistani design uses fine line, floral and paisley patterns covering entire hands, forearms, feet and shins. Lastly, the Indonesian and Southern Asian styles are a mix of Middle Eastern and Indian designs.

Special Occasion

Henna is typically applied during special occasions like weddings and festivals such as Karva Chauth, Holi, Diwali, and Eid. In India, almost any celebration is incomplete without mehndi. Bridal mehndi, which covers the hands up to elbows, in some cases up to shoulders, and the feet up to knees, can take many hours to complete. Weddings in South East Asia is long and elaborate with many pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding ceremonies. The most important pre-wedding ritual for bride is called Mehndi ceremony.

Mehndi ceremony usually takes place just before the marriage, normally two to five days prior to wedding. It is organized by bride's family and is usually a private event in the presence of relatives, friends and family members. During the ceremony, turmeric paste is applied on bride's face, feet and hands. After this, the Mehndi is applied by a skilled Mehndi artist. According to a popular belief, the darker the color of the Mehndi, the more her husband will love her. The ceremony takes place with Dholak, and song and dance by bride's friends and family members.

Henna In North America

Henna became fashionable in the the US in 1990s, where it is sometimes called "henna tattoo". The term henna tattoo is figurative because true tattoos are permanent as opposed to Mehndi which is temporary. Mehndi provides an excellent alternative to tattooing due to its temporary nature, particularly for people who are scared of needles or unwilling to having the same permanent design forever.

Henna / Mehndi is gaining popularity in the US and Canada. Celebrities like Demi Moore, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Mira Sorvino, Daryl Hannah, and Laura Dern have been seen with mehndi. Magazines like Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, People and Cosmopolitan have featured different mehndi designs.

If you have never used henna, it may be worth a try!

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