The Mehndi Ceremony
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
The Mehndi Ceremony traditionally takes place a day before the wedding and is a joyous occasion with traditional entertainment and food. Professional Mehndi Artists apply intricate designs to the hands, arms, feet and legs of the bride and her female relatives. The bride however will have the most intricate design which is known as bridal henna, whilst her sisters typically have simple designs applied. The groom can also partake, although he generally will only have a small token design applied.
It is customary for the bride to have her husband's name or initials, hidden amongst the design, which then becomes a fun game after the wedding, whereby the groom must find his name hidden amongst the design. Traditionally this fun ritual served as an ice breaker for arranged marriages on their wedding night, however nowadays, is more for fun. Should the groom successfully find his name or initials before the end of the evening, it is said that he will be the dominant partner in the marriage.
It is also believed that the darker the bride's stain is, the more she will be loved by her husband. Another fun ritual involves how long her bridal stain lasts, as she will be exempt from doing any household chores till such time as her mehndi stain has completely worn off.
Auspicious red thread known as gaaney or moli, which can be embellished or plain, is tied around the wrists of the bride and her female relatives as a symbol of good fortune. It is considered bad fortune to remove this thread or to break it, before it naturally wears off over time.
However the ceremony is not just of sentiments and beliefs. Albeit it is these beliefs that make it a much anticipated occasion. Traditionally mehndi was applied as a way to protect the bride and groom from sickness before their wedding day. This is because the mehndi paste is derived from the henna plant which is known for its healing and antibacterial properties. Therefore by applying this antibacterial paste to the bride and groom, it is thought to prevent them catching any germs.
The Vatna Ceremony, also known as Haldi or Maiyan Ceremony, can also be performed at the Mehndi Ceremony for the bride. This involves the bride being seated on a wooden plank known as a patri and a red cloth/chunni is held above them by four female relatives. Female relatives of the bride then take turn in applying a turmeric, flour and mustard oil mixture called vatna over their body whilst singing traditional songs. Turmeric symbolises purity due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Once everyone has taken their turn the mother will then feed the bride a rice and sugar sweet. This ceremony is done to cleanse and balance the body for married life.
Some bride's also opt to incorporate their Mehndi Ceremony into the Ladies Sangeet, depending on personal preference. Essentially what ceremonies are incorporated into the bride's Mehndi Ceremony all comes down to personal preference and beliefs. Though you can be certain that how ever the ceremony is celebrated, that it will be a fun and joyous occasion.