Mehndi is simply the Indian word for Henna and it plays a pivotal role in the pre wedding festivities in India for the bride and her female friends and family. Though the style of celebrations vary according to region and cultural backgrounds, the traditional values surrounding it remains at the core of it all. A walk around snippet of a party !
Author: Shredha Rajagopalan
A little introduction to the tour!
Adam Street 86-88, CF24 2FN Cardiff, GB
A Mehendi ceremony otherwise known as the Henna party is an event that takes place close to a wedding and this ceremony focuses on the bride and her relatives. This pre wedding ritual is present in most Indian weddings and plays a pivotal role in the auspicious beliefs Indians have around a wedding. Even though Mehendi parties have become increasingly modern and westernised in some aspects, the cultural roots and context remain the same. It is important to note that wedding events differ according to what region of India the couple comes from and what their religious background may be. However the use of Henna and a huge bash filled with dance and song and amazing food seems to remain the same regardless of these contributing factors. On this mini tour of traditions, guests can feel free to walk around and experience a little of what a henna party has to offer. I say little as the cultural twists each family puts on this gathering is different and trying to cover the full experience would not be accurate to every Indian! Each station will provide some information on the various elements of a Mehendi party. There is no particular order that you have to follow on the tour and feel free to sit down and enjoy the music and your snacks once you have finished the tour! I will be here as your host in the party to answer any questions you may have.
Adam Street 86-88, CF24 2FN Cardiff, GB
Unfortunately real Henna would have been too messy for you to have a go with on this tour. But please feel free to help yourself or let us help you to apply a Henna sticker tattoo so you can be a part of the fun! Mehendi is known to be one of the oldest types of body art and India is supposedly where the fascination with body art began. Henna is a form of dye from leaves that people decorate their hands and feet with for occasions such as weddings but it is also a form of hair dye. Henna can be bought in little tubes nowadays, making application easier to create patterns , after which you wash off will reveal the patterns in it's orange/red colour. The longer you leave Henna on (preferably over night with your hands in a bag so your sheets stay clean) the richer the colour gets. It is said the bride aims for a darker henna as this symbolises more love in the upcoming marriage. In the ceremony the bride and her gathering all get Henna but the bride has to sit for 3-8 hours to get the more intricate patterns where her partner's name will also be written amongst the design for him to find later on. Since the bride cannot move much , her friends and family will indulge her in song and dance and feed her and this is at the root of it all. Henna can be bought in the little tubes I mentioned before in Indian supermarkets in the UK or if anyone makes a trip to India , I can assure you its definitely cheaper there!
What to wear?
At this station, there is some Indian clothes displayed which you are more than welcome to touch and see the differing materials and textures used in Indian clothing. Although the actual type of clothes worn in wedding functions would be a bit too expensive to display! There is no set dress code for a henna party as this is essentially the time for the bride to let loose and explore with "funkier" colour fusions for her outfit. Traditonally, the style of clothing chosen is known as a Lehenga/Choli and this consists of a long (usually embellished and elaborate) skirt with a matching top. However for this ceremony , heavy sequins and beading is rare as this can be uncomfortable for a bride to don for hours. Brides will usually go with something they can dance in or change outfits once the ceremony is over as this party is for them to let loose a little! The colours usually chosen are greens,oranges and yellows and these vibrant hues are something the bridesmaids also choose to wear. There are some pictures attached to this station of Bollywood celebrity brides who have created a new buzz in bridal fashion recently!
Taster of food
Now once again the food element in a henna party is custom made to each couple`s regional backgrounds and how westernised their event will be. For example some parties may have full on Indian buffets filled with breads, street food and curry whilst others may choose to serve canapes and continental dishes. On this tour , a few tasters of food has been left out for you to try so that you can join the party. All the food is vegetarian however allergens and specific dietary requirements have not been catered to so please eat at your own risk ! The Indian food you can get in the supermarkets in the UK is what has been included such as Samosas and Bhajis as authentic food would take long to prepare and you would need to sit for the feast for longer than this event! Gulab Jamuns which are the syrupy desserts that can be found on the table are a staple for Indian events. They are deep fried dough balls , coated in syrup that has cardamom and rose water.
A little competition
Three important things in a henna party: Games, music and gifts! The party host has set up a simple competition so the winner can have a little henna favour bag to take away with them. Just write down the name of the song you would have playing if you were to have a henna party and leave it in the decorated tray. Make sure you write your name on the back! The host will decide the best suited song and announce the winner at the end of the event.