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Relevance of Mehndi in Hindu Traditions

Photo by Juanita Tommy.
Source: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/photo969412.htm.
Mehndi (also known as Henna in Urdu) is an important part of Hindu tradition. Wedding being one of the most important occasions in any girl’s life is also referred to as haath peele karna (an idiom) which can be translated as “to color a girl’s hand yellow,”  i.e. to get her married. One of the symbolic references of mehndi is fertility. Therefore it shouldn’t be any surprise that the mehndi application ceremony, simply called Mehndi Ki Raat, is celebrated in full galore and grandeur. This ceremony is often combined with Sangeet [which] translates as “music,” and hence makes it a night full of music, dance and feasting.
This ceremony is usually held one night before the wedding. The application of the mehndi on a bride’s hand (starting from the elbows) and feet (starting from below the knees) takes no less than 6-to-7 hours. Family and friends also apply one of the simpler designs of mehndi to celebrate with the bride-to-be.
One of the myths (just for fun, really!) involved with mehndi is that the darker the color of mehndi would be, the more your husband-to-be would love you. That is the reason why, even after its application the mehndi is kept on overnight to get a deeper, darker color on the palms. Traditionally, after her marriage, a girl does not indulge in any household work till the mehndi fades out completely (giving more time to the bride to get to know her husband and new family). For several centuries Indian marriages have been arranged by their parents and/or elders, thus such small rituals gave more time for couples to spend time together and built their marriage.
There after mehndi is applied on all important occasions and festivals. More than anything, it’s application is considered seemly and  auspicious.
Portions of this post were sourced from Importance Of Mehndi In Indian Culture.
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