Mehendi is one of the prime moments of a bride that often marks the beginning of the wedding festivities. Unsurprisingly, it is synonymously referred to as ‘shagun’ (good luck) as it is believed to bring love, good fortune and prosperity. The Mehndi function is a warm, cozy and a musical event where women folk from all ages, dadi, nani, phuphi, cousins to toddler nieces adorn their hands with beautiful intricate designs using Henna paste. A window to this event is when loved ones are found to be feeding each other delicacies while trying their best not to stain their traditional garments.
Henna, or Mehndi, a dye prepared from Lawsonia inermis, also known as hina tree, mignonette tree, Egyptian privet is a flowering plant that grows 12-15 feet high. It typically grows in the drier climates of India, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.
Interestingly, Henna leaves do not stain on its own, hence the leaves are dried and crushed to form a powder that is mixed with other natural ingredients such as eucalyptus oil, lemon juice, or black tea to form a paste. This paste when applied as Mehndi on the hands enables the molecules to bind with the keratin present on the outer layer of skin thus giving it its intense brown color.
The core significance of applying Mehndi is to utilize its medicinal herbal remedies, the most advantageous being its natural cooling effect. When applied to both the hands and the feet, it serves as a means of cooling the nerve-endings of the body, preventing the nerves from tensing up. Thus it helps relieving the bride of any stress before her big day.
The seeds of the Henna plant need to be stored under moderately cold conditions i.e if it is grown in-house, they need to be refrigerated before they are ready for germination. Thus it is the chill of winter that sparks the development of the Henna seeds.
After germination, the seeds are planted in warm conditions where they are exposed to adequate sunlight. It is insightful to know that Henna plant must go through the heat and the cold of the seasons which serve as perfect conditions for the plant to bloom fully and beautifully.
Metaphorically, being exposed to both the extremes the seasons, reminds us of the ups and downs that life often puts us through, specially the lows which we can’t escape. Nichiren Buddhism speaks of one such concept, namely, “Winter always turns to Spring” which tells us that the
“The key to victory in our lives lies in how hard we struggle when we are in winter, how wisely we use that time and how meaningfully we live each day confident that spring will definitely come” (Daisaku Ikeda)
Being a bride entails eventually becoming a wife, a daughter in law, a sister in law and later on a mother. These are strong roles that demand tremendous capability. And often, we may find ourselves crushing under such tremendous responsibilities. Just as the Henna seeds use the winter-like conditions as perfect opportunity to grow and blossom, women like us also through our own arduous efforts can strengthen those areas where we are weakest, discover qualities and abilities that we didn’t know we possessed, and grow and blossom in ways we never imagined. So there is no reason to give up hope as we know for a fact that Winter always turns to Spring.
So if you are bride, or a bridesmaid or a just woman like us who is inspired, do share this article with your folk tribe!
Also, let’s not forget how important it is to nourish ourselves no matter what season of life we are in. Incase if you are interested in knowing ways to care for yourself or your loved ones or perhaps, a bride who is beginning her journey soon, do have a look here