The darker your henna design on hands, feet or lower parts of legs on wedding day , the more your husband will love you says an old adage. Henna and Indian wedding have a very deep connection since ancient times in Indian civilisations.
Bride with a dark-coloured decorative designs mehndi gets immense love from her mother in-law according to Indian wedding beliefs. Well, it is believed that the longer the colour of the mehendi retains, the more promising their relation would be.
Whatever the case may be the beautiful design of Henna and its dark colours holds special significance for every Indian Bride to be. Every girls finds a reason to adorn her hands with henna. Every bride is worried about how dark will her bridal mehendi turn out. Every bride wants bridal mehndi to look rich in colour .Mehendi also symbolizes the illustration of fertility.
Mehendi also has immense medicinal properties and its application helps in destressing, calming nerves and prevents headache and fever. Henna is loved because of its rich and beautiful reddish brown colour. Applying mehndi on the hands for auspicious occasions is so much a part of Indian tradition. Mehndi is an essential part of many festivals, like Karwa Chauth and Teej. As for weddings, it is celebrated as part and parcel of the wedding, where intricate designs are painted on hands and feet.
You can get deep dark colour of henna naturally through simple ways and easy steps. As far as the designs are concerned, there is immense variety. Fine lines, floral, paisley and highly intricate designs are done, with great detail. The artistry is such that it can only be admired. Sometimes, no designs are followed and the paste is applied to cover the entire hand. During weddings, women in India cover the palms, forearms, feet and even the lower part of the legs with intricate henna designs.
The henna paste is made from powdered dry henna leaves. If you sift the henna powder through a sieve or fine mesh, it will not be lumpy when you mix it. Lemon juice is added to the henna to bring out the colour. You can mix the henna in a glass, ceramic or plastic bowl, using a plastic spoon. Since henna becomes dry easily and cracks, it tends to fall off in pieces. That is why sugar is added, to make it stick to the skin for a longer time. Apart from lemon juice and sugar, many people also add coffee and tea water, to get a richer colour. The tannin in tea is said to help the colour. These ingredients are added to the henna powder and mixed into a paste with warm water. A few drops of jasmine oil is also added, so that the mixture is not too sticky. After mixing the henna, wrap it and seal it. Keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
Another ingredient which is added to the henna mixture in some parts of India is walnut husk, which also gives a nutty brown colour and adds to the henna colour, making it last longer. All kinds of acidic substances, like tamarind, vinegar, etc., have been added to henna, but lemon juice is the most popular.
Henna stains the skin easily. If you wish to apply it on the nails, first clean your nails and trim them. Push back the cuticles. Soak the fingers in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. This softens the nails and skin around it and the henna paste is better absorbed.
Many methods are used for applying mehndi, starting from toothpicks and match sticks to cones and stencils. After applying the mehndi, it should be kept on for about 3 hours, dabbing with lemon juice and sugar mixture from time to time. After applying the henna, if small bits fall off, just fill in with more of the paste. The longer the paste is kept, the darker the colour. The henna paste should be removed by scraping it off. It should not be washed off. In fact, the hands should not be washed for 10 to 12 hours, to allow the colour to be fully absorbed by the skin.
Henna, of course, has several benefits. Research has revealed that it is a natural antiseptic and anti-irritant. It is still used in Ayurveda to soothe and heal heat rashes and skin allergies. It has been used for treating burns, bruises, cuts and skin inflammations. Used on the hair, it has been known to control scalp disorders like dandruff, itching and related conditions. In fact, it is a natural cleanser and restores the acid-alkaline balance of the skin.
(The author is International fame beauty expert and is called herbal queen of India)