Mehndi’s historical and cultural significance in the subcontinental context

Mehndi or henna art is it is now commonly known has been a part of the sub-continental culture for a long time now. It is used by women to decorate and draw different designs on their hands and feet. Mehndi art is generally done on festive occasions, specifically weddings. It isn’t just the bride that adorns her hands and feet with Mehndi but most women attending the wedding can also be spotted having made the art on their skin.

Perhaps Mehndi’s importance can be gauged by how the sub-continental weddings now have a specific day allotted during the wedding called “Mehndi ki raat.” There are different variations of the function in different countries. But this is a day dedicated to the art of Mehndi where the bride gets designs drawn on her hands and feet by professionals who are apt at the art. Family and friends also get together to get the temporary art form on their bodies.
Applying Mehndi on the hands and feet finds cultural roots to celebrate festivals. But now it has gained momentum and is also used instead of tattoos. Once the mehndi is applied on the skin, the darker the color, the better it is considered. Some even believe the darker the mehndi’s color on a bride’s skin, the better and more loving the mother-in-law will be. Although it is a myth but this also finds its roots in the sub-continental culture.