What is henna?
Henna is a small flowering shrub that has many uses. The fragrant flowers are used to create perfume, and the leaves are dried and then turned into a fine powder that’s used for dying clothes, hair and temporarily dying the skin — hence henna tattooing. The plant has even been known to treat skin conditions
How long does a henna tattoo last?
This depends on a few factors like skin type, lifestyle and body part, but generally speaking, the stain will last somewhere between one and three weeks.
The art of applying henna in hands and feet is known as Mehndi and it is a very old custom and ancient art form of the Asian subcontinent. The propagators were the Mughals. The Mughals taught us all about thehistory of Mehndi and introduced it to India during 12th century AD
Commercially packaged henna, intended for use as a cosmetic hair dye, is available in many countries, and is now popular in India, as well as the Middle East, Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. The color that results from dying with henna depends on the original color of the hair, as well as the quality of the henna, and can range from orange to auburn to burgundy. Henna can be mixed with other natural hair dyes including Cassia Obovata for lighter shades of red or even blond, or with indigo to achieve brown and black shades. Some products sold as “henna” include these other natural dyes. Others may include metal salts that can interact with other chemical treatments, or oils and waxes that may inhibit the dye, or even chemical dyes which are common allergens. Any product that comes in a cream, block, or paste form has some sort of additives.
As with henna in body art, the dried leaf powder should be mixed with a mild acid such as lemon juice, orange juice, or vinegar and left to stand. The resulting paste is then applied to the hair, and covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. This paste should be left in the hair for several hours in order for the dye to permanently bind to the hair strands. The paste is then washed away leaving hair that is permanently dyed. Sometimes henna is mixed with hot or boiling water and used immediately. This gives a color that may fade, and which is not as rich or deep.
Henna patterns will be beautiful and have four different styles.
1. The Middle Eastern style is mostly made up of floral patterns similar to the Arabic paintings.
2. The North African style follows the shape of the hands and feet using floral patterns.
3. The Indian and Pakistani designs include lines patterns and tear drops.
4. The Indonesian and Southern Asian styles were a mix of Middle Eastern and Indian designs using blocks of color on the very tips of their toes and fingers.
For men, the right hand is considered projective whereas the left hand for women is receptive. The feet are truly a spiritual place to henna, as they connect the body, mind and spirit with the earth.
Let’s look at some Indian Henna Designs and know their meanings.
Henna Flower Designs
One of the most popular designs, flowers symbolise joy and happiness. Is it any wonder then that they are widely used for weddings and other celebrations? Here are a couple of pretty flower designs. These simple mehendi designs are mostly adapted by beginners and those who want to practice and learn mehendi to become a pro.
Buds are used to signify the start of a new life. They can also be interpreted as meaning fertility and joy. While blossomed flowers are the preferred choice for most, buds can be used creatively to bring a new dimension to a design. Henna patterns in buds form are generally seen on the palms of newly-wed brides or soon-to-be mothers.
Henna Lotus Designs
The lotus stands for a myriad of virtues—creativity, grace, sensuality, beauty, femininity, and purity. The lotus is also said to represent the awakening of one’s soul.
Henna Peacock Designs
Another popular design that you are sure to come across is the peacock mehendi design. The peacock is a beautiful bird that looks exquisite when adopted as a henna design. And not surprisingly, beauty is what a peacock signifies. These mehndi designs for weddings are extremely popular.
Henna Bird Designs
Apart from peacocks, many other birds such as parrots and sparrows are also quite popular and are incorporated in henna designs. Birds symbolise either freedom or are considered as the messengers between heaven and earth.
Henna Fish Designs
Since these henna designs are distinctly shaped like eyes, fishes are used to represent a woman’s eyes. While they are not as common as peacocks or flowers, fishes do have their own distinct symbolic feature.
Henna Butterflies and Dragonflies
While butterflies signify transformation and change, dragonflies are associated with rebirth. With their elegant wings and shapes, butterflies and dragonflies provide an ethereal feel.
Henna Vines and creepers
A recurring theme used in many henna designs is the vine. With dainty leaves and pretty flowers, the vine is an attractive design that symbolises longevity, perseverance, and vitality, qualities that are very important for a relationship to prosper.
Henna Sun Designs
The sun has always been considered the ultimate source of energy according to our Indian culture. So it is to be expected that the sun in a henna design has very strong meanings. The sun stands for resurgence, immortality, eternal love, and knowledge. This maybe a simple henna design but it sure has a strong presence.
Henna Moon Designs
Lasting love between partners, the positive power of change, protection and health is what the moon signifies. A crescent moon means a new baby is in the line.
Henna Water Designs
Water is usually represented as a pattern of ripples. Just as a river or stream keeps flowing, life is a constant series of change and emotions. Water could also mean purification.
Henna Reptile Designs
Reptiles are not a part of the mainstream henna designs. After all, no bride would want to feature a snake or a lizard on her hands or feet. But they do hold great significance and are used to convey a strong meaning as seekers of enlightenment.
Henna Mandala Designs
The dictionary defines the mandala as—a circular figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. As a henna design, the mandala represents the universe. Its visually-appealing circular shape has made it a favourite amongst mehndi artists.
Popular Henna Design Meanings
1.Sahasara: This ancient symbol unites the soul with a divine sense of force.
2. Peacock: The proud peacock symbolizes beauty.
3. Swans: Symbolize success and beauty.
4. Birds:Birds serve as the messengers between heaven and earth.
5. Dragonflies and butterflies: Symbolize change and rebirth.
6. Paisley designs:Intricate and scrolling paisleys can represent fertility and luck.
7. Flowers: Flowers and petals symbolize pure happiness and joy.
8. Vines and leaves: Vines and leaf henna designs often represent devotion and vitality and are perfect for marriage celebrations.
9. Eye: Ancient eyes in Mehndi art often represent the reflection of the evil eye, turning any evil wishes back onto the gazer while offering a spiritual form of protection. Popular for weddings or any other of life’s journeys, a Mehndi eye is a comforting companion.
10. Snakes and lizards:Reptiles are often considered the seekers of enlightenment in henna practices.
Henna Paste Recipe
- Sift out enough henna to make about 1-1 and 1/4 cups dry, sifted henna powder.
- Take 2 packets of instant coffee singles (the ones that look like tea bags) and boil hard in about 1 and 1/2 cups of water until it boils down to about 3/4 of a cup of dark liquid.
- Mix just enough coffee into the powder to create a thick paste. The hot liquid will make the powder ball up a little, so be sure to mix it until it is well blended and smooth.
- Add about 2 tablespoons lemon juice; fresh is best.
- Add about 5 drops of Eucalyptus Oil.
- Add about 5 drops of Clove Oil.This should make a thin paste, but you don’t want it runny. If it is too runny, add a little more sifted henna powder. If its too thick, add a little more coffee, or plain water.Allow to settle and cool for about 2 hours.