The Mehndi Ceremony
The Mehndi Ceremony takes place before the wedding at the brides home. Professional Mehndi Artists will come to the home and 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 whist her sisters typically have simple designs applied. The groom also partakes although he will only have a small token design applied. It is customary for the bride to have her husband's name hidden amongst the design. Mehndi designs over the years have adapted with the times and become more and more ornate. With some brides opting for coloured mehndi paste or adding jewels.
The Vatna Ceremony, also known as Haldi, is typically performed at the Mehndi Ceremony for the bride. The bride is seated on a wooden plank called a patri and a red cloth is held above them by four female relatives. Female relatives of the bride then take turn in applying a tumeric, flour and mustard oil mixture called vatna over their body. Tumeric symbolises purity due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. During the ritual women sing traditional songs. 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.
It is a joyous occasion with traditional entertainment and food. Red string known as Moli is tied around the wrist as a symbol of good fortune. It is common belief that the darker the colour of the mehndi on the brides hands, the more she will be loved by her husband. After the wedding the bride is exempt from doing any household chores till such time as her mehndi has completely worn off. Though 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. The mehndi paste is derived from the henna Plant which is known for its healing and antibacterial properties.
Read about what to expect at a Punjabi Wedding in 10 Things To Expect At Your Punjabi Wedding