An exciting, traditional ritual which is a part of a wedding ceremony in India is the Mehndi ceremony. This usually takes place on the eve of the marriage and involves bridal henna designs being placed on the bride. No wedding would be complete without the mehndi ceremony.
According to tradition, the bride doesn?t not leave the house after this ceremony which is organized by brides family. Usually this is celebrated with friends and family but depending on the individual it may be a much larger affair. A skilled expert is brought in to apply the mehndi to the feet, legs, hand and arms, this can take hours to complete. According to tradition, the darker the henna, the more the bride will be loved by her husband and she is not allowed to do any work until the mehndi has faded away.
As well as meaning that the bride will be dearly loved by her husband, it also means that her in-laws will love and respect her as well. This is why the bride goes to great pains to to apply heat or oil to ensure that the color of the henna is dark.
Of the traditional mehndi designs that are drawn on the hands and feet of the bride, the Baraat design, which means the procession of the groom and his family before arriving at the ceremony, is quite often chosen. Doli is the other choice and this symbolizes the finale of the ceremony when the bride leaves to be with her husband. These designs are strikingly intricate and are very laborious to apply. Other common mehndi designs are flowers, peacocks, conch shells and images of the couple. It is compulsory to write the grooms name on the hands of the bride.
In more modern times, bridal henna designs have changed quite dramatically. Instead of using traditional mehndi, other options for brides are chemical mehndi, stone mehndi and even sparkle mehndi. With these more modern sparkles and stones are used to form more eye catching patterns. Nail paint mehndi and poster color henna tattoos are also becoming popular as they are nowhere near as time consuming to apply and they can easily be co-ordinated to the many outfits that the bride will wear during the week long ceremony.
In the end though, the bride still strives to get the darkest henna tattoo possible to ensure that she will not have to do any housework, her marriage will be long lasting and her mother in law will treat her well, which is important for any new bride!