Mehndi has become very important part of our culture but many people are not aware of what is mehndi(henna) and how it was originated.Mehndi is the application of henna and it is the temporary form of skin decoration in countries like Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is used by men and women both as the traditional form of decoration.The word “Mehndi” has its origination from the Sanskrit word ‘Mendhika’.Mehndi was started in the Middle East and Northern Africa over 5,000 years ago. Since then it has been used for ritual, artistic and ceremonial use.Mehndi has been used by the women from centuries to enhance their beauty. Women use mehndi to make beautiful designs on their hands, they also apply mehndi on hairs and nails as a dye.
What is mehndi(henna) you can understand this by understanding henna and mehndi because these are two different terms.The word “Heena” literally means ‘to become queen’. Henna is the Persian name of a shrub Lawsonia inermis. It has small, four petaled flowers ranging from yellow to pink and its leaves produce a red dye. Henna contains Hennotannic acid, which is a dye that bonds to the collagen in the skin cells and keratin of fingernails and hairs, which leave behind a red coloring. While mehndi describes the process of painting patterns with henna paste and resulting in stains on skin. For applying mehndi various methods are used like plastic cones, a piece of silver wire, twigs and syringes.
For making mehndi the henna leaves are picked,dried and then powdered. Then the powered is filtered through the nylon cloth two or three times. This filtration helps in making the powder fine and easier to use by removing the coarse fibers from it.Then this power is converted into thick paste by mixing it with some liquids such as tea, lemon or water and an oil like nilgiri, mehndi oil or eucalyptus. This paste in then applied on the hands in various designs and patterns.In addition a solution of sugar and lemon oil is applied on the dried mehndi so that it remains stuck to the skin and also the dying process is improved by this.
After the application of mehndi it is left on the skin for 12 or 13 hours. It is advised to apply mehndi at night as the stain become more dark at night. When the mehndi is dried after 12 or 13 hour it is removed from the skin.The stain of mehndi is cherry red, brown or orange but it can change depending on time or other factors. This stain is like a temporary tattoo which remains on the skin for 1 to 2 weeks and then is removed.For texture, smell and to help the stain coffee, tea, essential oils and lemon are sometimes added in mehndi.
Mehndi is viewed as practice of women though it is indeed practiced by men too.Due to cooling therapeutic effects in hot climate, at first mehndi was applied in order to cool down the body. A dot was applied on the center of the hand to cool down the body. When the early people become bored of the single dot they started adding lines and different geometric shapes in it. This originated the mehndi designs see see today.Now people have changed the mehndi designs according to their cultures and traditions.By reading this article now i hope you fully know what is mehndi(henna).