One of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies in Indian marriages is the mehendi ki raat. The beautiful bride-to-be adorns her hands and feet with striking designs made out of henna. As per the traditions, even the groom applies a bit of mehendi on his hands as well as feet. The entire ceremony is a fun-filled event with every family member and close friends of the bride and the groom being a part of it. But, apart from being a fun pre-wedding ritual, the mehendi ceremony also has a deep-rooted cultural significance to it. And, here we tell you all about the beautiful significance of mehendi in Indian marriages.
Applying mehendi to the bride and the groom before the wedding is one of the oldest Indian traditions. The ceremony, however, entails an elaborate application of mehendi designs on a bride’s hands and feet. As for the groom, a mere token of application of henna is a mark of good omen.
As a wedding tradition, it is followed in many parts of India as well as in neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Mehendi is quite popular among Muslims as well. According to Islamic literature, Prophet Muhammad used mehendi to dye his beard and administered its use to those who were unwell. Because of this, mehendi ceremony is an important pre-wedding ritual, observed in the Indian subcontinent and many Arabic nations.
Significance of Mehendi
Mehendi represents the bond of matrimony and is therefore, considered a shagun (sign of good luck). It signifies the love and affection between the couple and their families.
Here are some popular beliefs that are associated with this tradition:
- The darkness of the mehendi colour on a bride’s hand represents the deep love between the would-be-couple.
- The mehendi's colour also shows the love and understanding between the bride and her mother-in-law.
- The longer the mehendi retains its colour, the more auspicious it is for the newlyweds.
- Mehendi is also deemed to be a symbolic representation of fertility.
Mehendi is known for its medicinal properties. Its herb is also very beneficial for the growth of nails. It has a cooling effect that aids in soothing stress, headaches and fever. So, mehendi is applied to relieve the bride and the groom of all the wedding stress. It also protects them from any viral diseases before the wedding.
Mehendi ceremony is a colourful, musical and lively celebration. Different families have different customs during the ceremony. It is usually held a day before the wedding, and is often combined with sangeet ceremony.
The bride and other females in the family get decorative mehendi designs on their hands and feet. It is an occasion for both parties to have some fun, mixed with the usual dancing and feasting.
In the intricate design of the bride's mehendi, the groom’s name or his initials are also hidden. During the post-wedding ceremonies, the groom has to find his initials in the bride's hands. This is a fun ice-breaking game for the couple, which also helps them to establish some intimacy.
Modernisation of the designs
The traditional patterns of mehendi have become more and more intricate and decorative with time. Now, there are many types of mehendi patterns, most popular ones being the Arabic and Rajasthani designs. Mehendi is now even applied with ornaments, like crystals and sparkles. Each beautiful design has degrees of intricacy and can be made unique for the bride. These intricate design patterns are now quite popular among brides, worldwide.
The beautiful mehendi ceremony certainly adds more colours in the wedding celebrations. But more than that, the deep-rooted cultural significance attached to it also makes it an integral part of an Indian bride’s identity.