MEHENDI WEDDING CUSTOMS
The occasion of Mehendi / Mehandi is fun a filled ritual, which is celebrated mainly by the bride's family. Today in our Hindu culture weddings are no more a small affair with only get together of family members and friends. But it is celebrated in a much more larger canvas than earlier. It is a lavish and elaborate affair nowadays. So pre wedding functions are no more a private affair. It is celebrated with equal fun and enthusiasm as the main wedding.
Mehendi has great significance in all Eastern wedding traditions, and no wedding is complete without the decoration of the bride's hands and feet - in many cultures on both the front and back of the hands right up to the elbow, and on the bottom half of the legs. The Mehendi night is something like a hen night in the West, with all the bride's female friends and relatives getting together to celebrate. They spend the evening singing traditional Mehendi songs, which tell of he good luck and blessings that Mehendi will bring, and of its significance with different in-laws.
The Mehendi night is common in the Gulf regions of Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE. Here, the celebration is generally held a few days prior to the wedding, and is strikingly similar to that of Indian culture. The bride has her hands and feet painted, and traditional songs are sung by the mothers and grandmothers, who tease her about her future. Mehndi also features in other Middle Eastern celebrations such as births and christenings. In Gujarat, Mehendi tattooing is part of the Adivasi women's wedding traditions. Leaves and flowers are used as templates around which complex designs are painted on the bride's face and arms.
The Mehendi ceremony is considered so sacred in some religions that unless the mother-in-law has applied the first dot of Mehendi to the bride's hand, the painting cannot go ahead. The Mehendi dot is considered to be a symbolic blessing, bestowal of which permits the new daughter-in-law to beautify herself for the groom.
Many brides believe that the deeper the color of the Mehendi, the deeper the love they will receive from their in-laws, in particular the mother-in-law, whose blessing is particularly important to an Asian bride. Hence she does whatever she can to ensure that the Mehendi stain is deep. A good deeply-coloured design is a sign of good luck for the marital couple. It is common for the names of the bride and groom to be hidden in the Mehendi design; and the wedding night cannot commence until the groom has found the names. A bride is not expected to perform any housework until her wedding Mehendi has faded. While much of the symbolism of Mehendi designs are being lost some examples remain. The peacock, which is the national bird of India, the lotus flower, and an elephant with a raised trunk, which is a symbol of good luck, are all popular images.
In some customs the bridegroom's hands are also decorated, and communities in Kashmir and Bangladesh have evolved particular men's designs. A current trend in the UK is for traditional patterns in the form of a ring or bracelet.