Mehndi is a local name for a plant called ‘lasonia’ famous for its distinguished smell as the fragrance of this plant is really soothing to the sense of olfaction. The leaves of lasonia are dried and grinded well to make a paste which gives brownish red color when dried and has been used not only for skin decoration and hair dye but also for the conditioning of hair and skin diseases since ages.
It has been used as a natural hair dye and has been encouraged because of its being harmless for skin and hair as compared to typical dyes. Mehndi has also been used for moisturizing the skin and to prevent it from heat since long. Pure mehndi without chemicals is also safe to use for the fragile skin of children.
Mehndi has been used as cultural practice in sub-continent on the events especially on weddings and Eids. On weddings there is particularly a function named as ‘Mehndi’ or ‘Rasm-i-Hina’ which is regarded as one of the biggest pre-wedding celebrations. Green and yellow are the theme colors of this custom and without the function of Mehndi weddings are considered dull and boring.
On these functions and celebrations women use mehndi to adorn their skin of hands and feet and sometimes hands up to elbows and feet up to their knees. The patterns and designs are made artistically attractive these days with glitter and other colors to enhance the beauty of skin.
Mehndi is widely used as a symbol of love and necessary element of accouterment for beloved or husband. It is said that mehndi gives new color to life when it adorns the hands of a virgin. Mehndi if handled aesthetically really enhance the beauty and grace of a woman. It is depicted in the literature specifically poetry of India and Pakistan that mehndi designs on the hands of beloved add more attractiveness to her beauty and appeal poets and writers.
Not just in east but also in west Mehndi is used as an alternative of the painful process of tattoo making, the Hollywood actresses now make tattoos temporarily for movies with mehndi to make them free from the pain of original tattoo making.
These tattoos are made on any part of body such as arms, legs, neck, shoulders, back and even on belly in any kind of shapes and patterns from simple butterflies to dragons, cats, guitars or anything.
Mehndi art is practiced on mirror or glass in the beginning of learning. Glass is a smooth material and the nib of the mehndi cone is fluent on it therefore it is excellent for practice. The complicated patterns and designs are technically made with simple tutorials so that they eventually come out to be easy to draw on skin.
The patterns of mehndi vary from culture to culture, Afghan women do not make designs they just apply the paste on the palms of their hands and feet. Indian women love to draw heavy designs on full arms and also on legs.
Whereas, in Pakistan there are trendy designs used on different occasions; Pakistani women like both simple designs (just on fingers) as well as heavy ones (on arms and beck of the hands).
Additionally, mehndi is used on nails in the villages as a substitute of nail paint.
In short, we can say mehndi is one of the important parts of a woman’s beauty and it is as important as ornaments for her. Beautiful designs are weakness of women in almost all cultures and mehndi artists are also paid well for this skin decoration.