Henna is a small shrub called Hawsonia inermis. The young leaves and twigs are ground into fine powder. Henna is then mixed with lemon, tea & some essential oils like lavender/cajuput or eucalyptus oil. Henna is applied using a bag similar to ones used for cake icings on the hands, feet or any other part of the body to give them a reddish-orange to brown color. After the paste dries, it is brushed off and the resulting designs are in place for up to four weeks.

Henna art has been used since early Egyptian times. The henna plant (Lawsonia Inermis) is generally grown in hot, dry climates, Iran,India,Pakistan, Egypt, and North Africa.. Henna has been known not only for its cosmetic uses but also for medicinal uses. It is believed to be effective in treating certain types of cancer, muscle contractions, fungal infections, headaches, and general anti-septic purposes. Henna was one of the first forms of cosmetics and was frequently used by women. The use of henna was taken to India by the Moghuls in the 12th Century A.D. centuries after use in the Middle East and North Africa.

The custom of applying henna patterns to the hands and feet is a symbol of satisfaction and happiness in Indian weddings as the red color is considered very auspicious. Henna comes from henna plant which brings luck & prosperity.

"Mehndi", the hindi term of henna is carried out on a bride's hands and feet the night before the marriage celebrations begin, often known as the 'mehndi ki raat' or night of henna, raat meaning night. A party of the bride's women relatives spends several hours at this joyful task, during which they sing appropriate songs and teasing her about her future. For the bride, the process is therapeutic in calming and preparing her for the event.

Henna is a symbol of the strength & love in a marriage. Darker the henna, stronger the love will be. The color of henna specifically has symbolic significance because red is the color of power and fertility. Many brides believe that the deeper the color of the hennq, the more passionate the marriage. Sometimes the groom's name is incorporated into the bride's complex henna design, and it is a delightful task to try finding it - often taking up hours to accomplish.

For Henna pictures, click here.