Mehndi is an ancient form of body art that has practiced in the Middle East, India and parts of Africa for over 5,000 years. It is the art of applying designs to the skin through the application of pastes made with henna powder. Henna art was intended to be a symbolic representation of the outer and inner sun. It was mean to be an awakening of the inner light or a ceremonial replication of an event.
Traditionally Mehndi was a ceremonial art form applied to the hands and feet of brides before their wedding ceremony. Often the initials of the groom were hidden in the patterns. Today this is still a popular practice, and some grooms wear Mehndi. The intricate designs are intended to be fun, but they are also important.
Henna tattoos are used to embellish the body. Applied on the palms, back of the hands, legs and shoulders, the designs are traditional in Pakistani, Arabic, Indian, and Rajasthani Marwari plus other cultures. Named after geographic places, or nature these patterns are often floral designs.
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Apply mehndi via henna or a dye prepared from a flowering plant of the species Lawsonia. Henna has been used for thousands of years to dye skin, hair, and fingernails. Originally henna was used for cosmetic purposes on the face and in the hair.
Body art medium is a result of drying, milling, and sifting the henna leaves. Mix the dry powder with water, lemon juice or strong tea. Some Mehndi artists use sugar or molasses in the paste to improve consistency and help the dye adhere to the skin. Some artists use tea tree, cajuput, or lavender essential oils mixed with the henna powder to improve staining. A henna mixture must rest for up to 48 hours before use. Resting the dye releases the lawsone or the pigment from the leaf matter.
Apply henna with a stick, twig, a syringe, or a plastic cone that is similar to a cone used to pipe icing onto cakes. A light stain is almost immediate, but the longer the paste stays on the skin, the stronger and richer the stain is. To prevent henna from falling off the skin, the paste is sealed by dabbing a sugar/lemon mixture over the dried paste.
The significance of henna tattoos or Mehndi artwork depends on the traditions of your religion or country. Artwork is often combined with religious symbols, fish, and butterflies. These symbols are very popular in North Africa. The Mehndi ritual in Morocco is performed in the 7th month of pregnancy and often uses symbols of sun and water. In Muslim communities in India henna and Mehendi art is used on various occasions of religious significance.
Mehendi art and design have been promoted in Bollywood movies. The Western world sees these gorgeous designs, and now Mehendi is popular for beautifying hands and feet in worldwide cultures. Mehndi patterns are exquisite, and the designs and arrangements do vary from culture to culture.
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