One of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies in Indian marriages is the “Mehndi-ki-raat” ritual. It is not only a fun pre-wedding ritual but also has a deep-rooted meaning in Indian marriages.
Traditional Ritual Applying mehndi to brides before is among the earliest of traditions in marriages, with its origins in ancient India. In certain parts of India, as well as in neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, grooms apply mehndi too. It gained popularity among Muslims when Prophet Muhammad used it, making it a pre-wedding ritual among majority Indians and also in Arabic speaking nations. From being exclusive to weddings, mehndi has now become a significant part of any special occasion including engagements, Karva Chauth, Diwali and other festivals and family get-togethers.
Significance of Mehndi Mehndi represents the bond of matrimony and hence, has sustained its importance as a pre-wedding ritual and is considered a “shagun”. It signifies the union of two families and the love and affection in a marriage. It is believed that the darker the mehndi stains on the bride’s hand, the stronger the bond will be with her husband. The longer the mehndi retains, the more auspicious it is for the newlyweds. Mehndi is also deemed to be a symbolic representation of fertility. Among the intricate patterns of the mehndi will be hidden the groom’s name or his initials, which he will have to later find. This fun game breaks the ice for the couple and creates intimacy.
Mehndi Ceremony The mehndi ceremony is a colorful, musical and lively celebration. Different families have different customs during the ceremony. It is usually held a few days before the main wedding ceremony and usually combined with Sangeet ceremony. The bride and other females in the bridal party get ornate mehndi patterns applied on their hands and feet. It is an occasion for both sides of the family to gather and have some fun, as there is usually dancing and skits performed by family and friends. Everyone sings and dances to traditional wedding songs. It is entertaining for all the members as there is a lot of excitement in the air for the upcoming wedding as well as lot of teasing the bride and groom before their big day.
Other Features of Mehndi In addition to the cultural significance in weddings, mehndi is also renowned worldwide for its medicinal properties. Its therapeutic qualities made it a popular cosmetic since early ages. Mehndi is an excellent, natural conditioner and dye for hair, giving a beautifully coloured, radiant looking hair. Mehndi is also popular for its cooling effects and aids in soothing headaches, fevers and even hysteria. It can also increase the growth and look of nails.
Modernization of Mehndi The traditional patterns of mehndi have become more and more intricate and decorative with time. There are now many types of mehndi patterns, some of which are Arabic, Rajasthani and tattoo. Crystal mehndi has bindi-like crystals to add sparkle to the mehndi design. Each beautiful design has degrees of intricacy and can be made unique for the bride. Its design patterns have made it popular among brides worldwide.