The Traditional Henna Night
The best loved henna tradition is the decoration of the bride- to-be on the ‘mehndi ki raat’ or ‘night of henna’.
Some cultures call henna ‘love juice,’ as it signifies the strength of love in a marriage.
It is thought that the darker the henna stains the stronger the love and more passionate the marriage.
The henna night, something like a hens night in the West, is a calming, therapeutic time for the imminent bride. She may have to be still for hours while her hands and feet are being painted and her female friends celebrate and pamper her. Traditional henna songs may be sung and the women may tease the bride about her imminent encounter with her new husband or relate stories about their own marriage day and night. While the healing properties of the henna calm the bride’s nerves, the attention and camaraderie of the ritual also ease the anticipation of her new role in life.
The designs are also important and specific to each region. Organic, sensuous designs are most common and link symbolically with ideas of fertility, love and affection. In India the grooms name or initials are incorporated into the design. There is a custom of the husband having to locate his name on the wedding night and if he cannot find them it is said the woman will hold the power in the family.