The tradition of using Henna body art is very popular in the Indian culture. Explore the history of mehndi/ mehendi designs in India.


Whenever there is any happy occasion or festivity, the Indian women celebrate it by applying henna designs on their hands and feet. Apart from serving the role of a body art, applying henna is also considered as very auspicious. Heena application is a complex art and the artist needs to be proficient to be able to paint intricate designs swiftly. Also called Mehndi, one can prepare the henna by making a paste out of the henna powder available in the markets across India. Traditionally, it is made by grinding the leaves of the henna tree to a paste.

While using mehendi leaves, it should be ensured that they are not whole and unbroken after grinding. Henna does leave its deep red-brown stain on the skin until the Lawson molecules are not released from the leaf and this happens only when the leaves are properly grinded. So, people prefer using the henna powder for this form of body art. You need to mix henna powder with lemon juice, strong tea or other mildly acidic liquid, apply this paste and leave it on for about 10 hours to dry. Later, you can scrap it off with a blunt knife or a spoon.

Since mehndi is considered lucky, in our country, its application on the hands and feet of a bride is mandatory. Henna artists usually apply the most complex mehndi patterns and designs on the bride as these look the loveliest. The traditional Indian henna has been glammed up lately with the use of glitters and other such things. People wear them to parties and get-togethers. But it's the traditional henna that is widely worn by most people because it is much cheaper and looks much more beautiful.

In our country, henna artists generally belong from the Nai (barber) caste. The history of mehendi tells us that the knowledge or skill of its application is normally passed down from one generation to another. Mehendi application also provides a source of income to many women who are not allowed to work outside. All happy occasions in India, be it birth, weddings or religious ceremonies; include henna application as part of the celebration.