ONE of the most eagerly awaited ceremonies that the brides-to-be and their young friends look forward to at any wedding is undoubtedly the mehendi ceremony. Although the art of mehendi has existed for centuries it has become a major ceremony not only in North Indian weddings but has also caught the fancy of brides across the country and even abroad.
The mehendi ceremony generally takes place one or two days before the actual wedding at the bride’s place. But with mehendi ceremonies growing bigger with each passing year, all the ladies and unmarried girls from both sides (bride and the groom) congregate well in advance at a selected venue. As a part of the mehendi ceremony, the girl’s hands and feets are decorated with mehendi. Other ladies and young girls too adorn their hands with intricate mehendi designs.
As a part of the tradition, the mehendi to adorn the hands of the bride-to-be is sent by her future mother-in-law. In the punjabi community, it is believed if the henna leaves a dark eye on the hands of the bride, she will be loved well by her mother-in-law.
So to get that rich dark colour of the mehendi, brides follow a number of tips. Since mehendi of Sorjatt in Rajasthan is considered pure, it is much in demand. Cloves are heated on tava and the heat is made to touch the palms of the bride with mehendi. An application of lemon and sugar over the hand with mehendi at regular intervals is also supposed to give a rich and longer lasting much desired colour. There are others who heat their hands with mehendi over the stove or apply tiger balm over their hands with mehendi because it is believed to give a lot of heat which makes the mehendi colour grow dark.
Once the mehendi has dried, experts also recommend scrubbing dry mehendi with COCOnut oil. Putting hands in water for at least 24 hours after applying mehendi is certainly not recommended.
Tradition undergoes change:
In olden days a relative or friend used to apply mehendi on the hands of bride-to-be with elderly ladies singing songs for a happy married life of the to-be-married couple. The tradition has now undergone tremendous change. Professional , mehendiwalis have taken over from amateur relatives and elaborate sangeet ceremonies with innovative sequences and well rehearsed and professionally choreographed dancing taking over. This is followed by a grand spread of delicious dishes that are heartily enjoyed by the invitees. In fact those indulging in opulence also send out separate cards to invite friends and relatives for the mehendi function that is held a day before wedding ceremony.
Although traditional designs comprising a baraat, dulha-dulhan, doli-shehnai, etc., are still in use, contemporary Indian brides nowadays prefer either Arabic mehendi or zardozi and studded designs matching their wedding dress. Thanks to the fIlm and television serials and also musical videos popularising mehendi ceremonies, the art of mehendi applying has undergone work (with semi-precious stones) and coloured mehendi (to match the bridal attire) too are gaining popularity with the hip, hep and happening brigade,”.
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