With how expensive a multi-day wedding can get, I rarely get a couple that books me for the henna ceremony. Personally, I recommend it. It’s practically the bride’s bachelorette. There are a lot of pre-events when it comes to a Southasian Wedding. The henna ceremony is often the most casual. For this bride, it was in the private party room of a restaurant. Though you would never guess it considering how well they decorated it for the event.
Henna, also known as Mehndi, is an ancient form of body art originating in India and across South Asia and the Middle East. A henna ceremony is a pre-wedding celebration in Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim culture when the bride has the mehndi “stain” applied to her skin. It traditionally covers her palms, back of hands, feet, and anywhere else she chooses. Typically held the day before the actual wedding, this event often has a lounge feel. Although henna associates with weddings, the paste does offer a cooling feature. This is why it’s so culturally popular in warmer countries. For example, ancient Egypt, royalty would cover their entire body in it as a way to stay cool.
There’s a reason the party occurs so close to the ceremony. Tradition says the deeper the color of the bride’s henna, the happier the bride and groom’s marriage will be. Depending on the family, it can also mean how much the bride’s mother-in-law loves her. However, the color is derived from your own body temperature. The warmer you are, the darker the stain. It’s why you’ll find a lot of drinking at these events. Alcohol will actually warm you up and allow the stain to come out darker.
Designs symbolize various blessings, luck, joy, and love. The groom’s name is usually hidden somewhere in the patterns. He has to find it on the wedding night before getting to “do it.” This is one of my favorite traditions. With brides getting more and more creative with their henna designs, they can turn this tradition into a very fun sex game. From the lovely people who brought you the Kama Sutra.