Mehndi is an ancient form of body art using the leaves of a plant called henna, also known as cypress flower. The word henna comes from the Arabic word for the plant: hinna. The exact origin of mehndi is difficult to place but it has been around for 5000 years. Some historians believe that the origin of mehndi is India. Others think that the origin of mehndi is the Middle East or North Africa.Archaeologists have revealed that Henna was used in ancient Egypt. Some mummies in Egypt were found with mehndi applied on toes and fingers. There is also reference to the henna plant as the “Cypress of Egypt”.
Mehndi plays an important role in different events and celebrations in India. Mostly it is a female body art but sometimes men also apply mehndi on their hands. For example Mehndi can be applied on the hands of both the bride and groom. It is a sign of many blessings. Mehndi is also applied for luck, joy and beauty. In weddings the bride always has the most mehndi on her hands with very intricate and elaborate structures and patterns. Sometimes many hours and even days are required to complete this bridal tradition process.
The Henna plant, which grows 4 to 6 feet tall, can be found in countries like Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Uganda, Morocco, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Iran and Palestine. The henna plant grows well in hot climates. The leaves of henna are dried and crushed into a fine powder. Water is added in until a thin paste is created. Eucalyptus oil is applied to the skin before the henna for good results. After the henna is applied, a sugar/citrus solution is applied to deepen the color. It was a lot of fun drawing the designs on the girls. They were very patient and still. The results were very beautiful and will last for 7 to 14 days.