History of bridal mehndi designs
Indian bridal mehndi designs have a rich and storied history. Here are some extracts from an interesting article that provides in-depth information about the origins and the history of mehndi.
The word ‘henna’ comes from the Arabic name ‘Hina’ for the plant Lawsonia inermis.
In the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, it is known as Mehndi. In North Africa and the Middle East, it is known as hina. In Telugu, it is known as Gorintaaku, and in Tamil, it is called Marudhaani.
It is known that henna has been in use for cosmetic as well as healing purposes for at least 5,000 years. A long history of migration and cultural interaction has made it difficult to determine with absolute certainty where the tradition began.
Some scholars claim that the earliest documentations of henna use are found in ancient Indian texts and images, indicating that mehndi as an art-form may have originated in ancient India. Others claim that the practice of ornamenting the body with henna was taken to India by the Moguls in the twelfth century from the Middle East and North Africa.
Henna is also known to have been used in ancient Egypt, to stain the fingers and toes of pharaohs prior to mummification. It is theorised that dots of henna were first applied to the palms of the hands as a means of cooling down the body. Early users of henna began to add lines and other shapes to the single dots on the palms, eventually developing the elaborate and intricate designs used today.
North Vs South Indian Bridal Mehndi Designs
In North India, henna is used as a temporary form of skin decoration. Henna designs are drawn on the hands and feet where the colour will be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin. Henna leaves are usually dried and ground into a powder, which is mixed into a paste. It is applied using a variety of techniques. The henna paste is usually left on the skin for eight hours, after which it is removed. The pattern continues to darken for approximately three days. It is typically used for celebrations and special occasions, particularly weddings.
In Tamilnadu, henna is known as “Marudhaani” and is used in the form of ground fresh leaves (made into a paste) rather than as dried powder (mehndi). It is left on overnight, and lasts longer than mehndi (a month or more), depending on the plant and how well it is ground and how long it is left on the hands and feet. Marudhaani is used in various festivals and celebrations. The designs are usually not intricate when compared to bridal mehndi designs from the north.
Significance of Indian bridal Mehndi designs
Mehndi has big significance in Indian wedding rituals. Here are some interesting tidbits about applying mehndi on brides:
Mehndi represents the bond of matrimony and is considered a sign of good luck. An elaborate design is applied on the bride’s hands and feet. For the groom, a mere token of application of henna is considered a good omen. Yes, you heard it right. Grooms also apply mehndi.
Here are some popular beliefs associated with this tradition (namely the applying of mehndi):
- The darkness of the mehndi on the bride’s hands represents the deep love between the would-be couple.
- The colour of the mehndi shows the love and understanding between the bride and her mother-in-law.
- The longer the mehndi retains its colour, the more auspicious it is for the newly-weds.
- Mehndi is also a symbolic representation of fertility
Mehndi is also well-known for its medicinal properties. It helps in the growth of nails, but most importantly, it has a cooling effect which aids in relieving headaches, stress, and fever. That explains why mehndi is applied to both the bride and groom before the wedding to relieve them of all the wedding stress. It also protects them from any viral diseases before the wedding.
The mehndi ceremony is a colourful and lively ceremony. It is held one day before the wedding and is often combined with the Sangeet function.
Here are some fun facts about Mehndi in marriages.
Top 21 Indian Bridal Mehndi Designs
Here are some of the classical Indian bridal mehndi designs. Go ahead, pick a design that you fancy!
1. Paisley Print Pattern
The paisley print is a timeless classic. The curved motifs are done in many forms, like the popular mango design.
TIP: Mehndi should be applied two days prior to the wedding day. This will ensure that your mehndi is dark on the day of your wedding.
2. The Floral Pattern
Flowers are considered to be a neutral motif since they match any bridal attire. This floral pattern has tiny leaves and a large flower design that is shaded to create depth. It also includes petals and vines of various sizes.
TIP: Hair removal must be done a day before the application of mehndi. Another alternative is waxing of the mehndi along with the hair.
3. The Royal Architecture
This mehndi design is reminiscent of the detailed architectural designs that we will find at an ancient Mughal palace. The domes and floral designs resemble the designs carved into the cemented pillars of a royal residence. The major focus of these bridal mehndi designs is the chequered and split pattern which is very similar to a tapestry.
TIP: Manicure and pedicure should also be done before the application of mehndi because once mehndi has been applied, contact with water should be avoided as far as possible.
4. The Raja and Rani
The Raja and Rani motif is common in bridal mehndi designs. This design showcases an artwork from the Mughal era of a king and queen.
TIP: As soon as the mehndi (henna paste) starts to dry up on your hands and feet, dab it with cotton wool dipped in a mixture of sugar and lemon juice. That will help hold up the mehndi in its place and further enhance the darkness of its maroon colour.
Check out 1000+ bridal mehndi designs gallery on Pinterest. Click here to view the gallery!
5. The Elephant Motif
One of the most favourite bridal mehndi designs is the elephant featured motif. The elephant motif is unique and different from common patterns like the peacock and floral patterns.
TIP: Mehndi should be left for at least six hours without allowing it to get wet with water. You may wrap your hands and feet with the help of a cling film. The ideal time to apply mehndi is at night, as you can go to sleep after application of the mehndi.
6. The Peacock Passion
The elegant and stunning peacock design is adopted everywhere in Indian bridal designs – starting with bindis, lehengas and of course, mehndi designs!
TIP: Avoid bending your wrists, fingers, toes and feet while the mehndi design is still wet.
7. The Swirl
The swirl pattern is done on each finger, leaving a blank space between the palm and the fingers. This is a classic design for brides who want mehndi but in a minimal form.
TIP: Remove the mehndi at least 6 hours after application with the help of a blunt knife or simply by brushing it off. Do not wash your hands yet.
8. The Single Mandala
The single mandala is a very common design in bridal mehndi – a large circle that usually serves as a base around which several patterns are drawn. The petals are often arranged to create a multi-dimensional look.
TIP: Keep your hands and feet warm by applying Vicks Vaporub or eucalyptus oil. You can also put some cloves on a heated pan and let them smoke. Hold your hands at a little height above the pan. The heat emanating from the pan and the aroma of cloves will help to enhance the colour of henna.
9. The Spilt Mandala
A split mandala pattern is usually the central focus of a bridal mehndi design. The design involves half of the circular pattern on one hand, and the other half, on the other hand, thus making it symmetrical.
TIP: The faster you exfoliate, the faster the mehndi design will fade.
10. The Crafted Cuffs
The crafted cuffs pattern is a modern look with a focus on the wrist, rather than the palm. The main focus of this pattern is the intricate and thick cuff over the wrists. The small mandalas behind the cuffs ensure that your arms look completely jazzed up.
Tip: Avoid contact with water as far as possible, till your wedding day.
11. The Traditional Pattern (sans fingertips)
This is very traditional mehndi design and at the same time, it is unique, unlike traditional Indian mehndi design that covers the fingertips. In this pattern, the fingertips are left without any design. The motifs are also different on both hands, making the design very unique. This intricate Indian mehndi design fills up both the hands, thus making it ideal for a bride to be.
TIP: Body glitter, stones, and bindis may also be applied on your hands and feet to match the colour of your outfit.
12. Two-in-One Mehndi Design
Two-in-One mehndi design is a bridal mehndi that has geometric designs, like circles, curves, lines and squares.This is a bridal mehndi which has geometrical designs, curves, circles,
When you split a design into two, draw one-half of the mehndi design on one hand and the other half on the other hand. When you bring both the hands close to each other, what comes about is a Karva Chauth mehndi design.
TIP: Did you know that when you apply the mixture of sugar and lemon juice over the mehndi design, and when the juice dries up, it will almost glue the mehndi design to your skin, allowing your skin to absorb all the good colour? The juice can be reapplied 2-3 times overnight.
13. The Circular Motif
Circular motifs make for great mehndi art, as they are aesthetically very appealing. There is something about a neat circle that makes an impression, thus allowing the design to last in our minds even after the actual mehndi has faded away.
Tip: Baby oil can be used to scrub off the mehndi instead of washing it with water or soap. Washing with water usually washes off all the mehndi. Just apply the baby oil on the dried mehndi and use a thick card to gently scrape the mehndi design from your hands.
14. Lines and Patterns
Birds and flowers are not needed to create alluring designs – it can be done with the help of lines and patterns as well. When combined, lines and patterns come together to form an interesting design. Although there is no one particular motif that acts as the central part of the design, it is an impressive and sought-after mehndi design.
TIP: The colour of your mehndi gradually darkens over the next day. It is better not to use soap for the next 12-hours – if you must wash, apply oil over the design and quickly wash it off. Also, henna darkens as it is exposed to air.
15. Chequered Pattern
The chequered pattern is a great way to make your mehndi design pop and to give a break to intricate patterns. It can also be cleverly used to fill up any gaps.
TIP: Apply mustard oil after you apply mehndi. It is a great colour stimulant.
16. Creepers and Leaves
Creepers and leaves also make for great mehndi designs. They have a delicate flowing structure that is perfect for creating beautiful art on the bride’s hands.
TIP: When choosing a bridal mehndi design, select a design which has both thick and thin lines. Thicker lines usually result in a darker shade and thinner lines act as a filler or give emphasis on the main design.
17. Colored Mehndi Design
The colourful mehndi pattern includes glitter and stones to create colourful mehndi art. The colours really stand out and make for an interesting look. While this is not a traditional design, more and more women are starting to experiment with this coloured design.
TIP: The best colour will be the day after mehndi has been scraped off. So apply your design by working backwards from your special day!
18. The Border Design
The border design is a perfect choice for the feet. The design forms an outline along the sides of your feet, making a border.
TIP: Avoid getting too close to the air conditioners as it hastens the mehndi drying time
19. Asymmetric Design
Sometimes, the mehndi designs do not need to be filled with matching and symmetrical patterns. The beauty can lie in the uniqueness of an asymmetric pattern with vine designs and floral patterns all over the hands.
TIP: Refrigerate your cones after the first use. This will ensure that the mehndi cone will last even for the second use!
20. The Tips and Cuffs
These tips and cuffs look features minimalist designs on the bride’s fingertips and elaborate details over the cuffs. The palms may have a simple design drawn on them or none at all. This modern pattern has been created with a blend of architectural and floral inspiration. It makes the bride’s hands appear like she is wearing bracelets.
TIP: Did you know that you can use skin-friendly glue to stick rhinestone and glitter to adorn your bridal mehndi design. Tried turmeric paste?
21. The Lacy Floral Design
Flowers are universally regarded as the epitome of femininity. The lacy floral design ranks as one of the most popular henna designs. The flowers on the bridal hands, with their deep orange-red mehndi stain, can wow you with their simple yet graceful design.
TIP: Are you aware that wrapping the mehndi design gives it a richer and darker colour? You can use medical paper tape to gently wrap up the mehndi (ask the artist or have someone else do it because you could spoil the design by wrapping it yourself).Many also suggest wrapping the henna design as it gives a rich and darker colour. While you can do the wrapping yourself, but there is a danger of spoiling the design. It is best you ask the artist to do so or have somebody else do it under her supervision. You can use medical paper tape to gently wrap up the mehndi.
Read This next!