The Tradition of Mehndi in India

Allison Sodha

Several of Sodha Travel's tours, including our Colors of India women-only group tour, include a private mehndi session. Mehndi, or henna, is a traditional and temporary art applied to the hands, feet and body. Made from the dried leaves of the henna plant, mehndi is generally applied during weddings, festivals, and special occasions.

Mehndi Hands Mehndi Hands

The use of mehndi is referenced in the ancient Hindu Vedic texts. Staining with haldi (turmeric) and mehndi are Vedic customs and represent the sun. In other regions, henna is applied to cool the body and also for ritualistic purposes. In India, the mehndi celebration is often one of the most important and ritualistic pre-wedding events. The designs are very intricate and can take hours to apply, with some brides even hiring designers to sketch the patterns. Henna paste is applied to the skin using a brush or cone. As it dries, the paste will dry and crack. A mixture of lemon juice and sugar can be patted on the skin to moisten the area and intensify the color. Sometimes a wrap will be applied over the application, or it can dry openly. The mehndi can last between 5 days and 3 weeks and the final color is determined by both skin type and exposure. Moisturizing with natural oils (olive, coconut, etc) can also prolong the stain.

On a more personal note, here is a photo from my own mehndi celebration during my wedding in Ahmedabad, India:

Henna Feet Henna Feet

Did you know that Sodha Travel can include a complimentary mehndi session with your customized India tour package? Contact a Sodha Travel Destination Specialist for more information!

Topics: India, Culture, Festivals and Holidays

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.