Significance of henna for Weddings and Traditions
Symbolism of Henna
Henna symbolises positive spirits and good luck. Indian Wedding tradition calls for a Mehndi ceremony to be held the night before the wedding as a way of wishing the bride good health and prosperity as she makes her journey on to marriage.
This is what henna (mehndi) has been about for me all my life and has been the foundation of our brand. As a young girl, I would anticipate the henna night of our family weddings, waiting to have my hands adorned with beautiful designs that I could show off for a whole week after celebrations! There was a spell in high school where I was not so proud of my culture and would shy away from our heritage, but I soon got over it and was all over henna and design at the age of 15.
Henna Design and Origin
The design aspect, the therapeutic side and of course the beauty was so attractive to me, but even more than this was the significance and the connotation behind it. I thought what a way to start my career! I would only be around people who were in the best of moods! Celebrating the most happiest time of their lives, and being in an atmosphere of joy and laughter was a massive win for me. Also the words behind henna and what it stands for. Fortune, prosperity, luck, colour, vibrance, new beginnings, fun, this was everything I looked for in life.
So going back to how henna came about, Centuries ago, henna was used to cool down the skin, mainly spread on the palms of the hands and feet. Over the years it became decorative as a form of body art, and evolved to the design you now see for weddings. Design varies from region to region, with intricate designs done at speed in India, to big, bold designs native to the Middle East, and to symmetric, tribal designs from Africa – all regions wear henna as a form of expression for auspicious occasions, with weddings being at the forefront.
I have had the honour of being a part of many weddings, and really, culturally you are just not seen as a bride without henna. So much so, that even those that are not keen on having henna done, we have created alternatives for them to wear, so that it looks like they had the real thing done on their wedding! I have had brides laid back and relaxed, and then all of a sudden when I have completed their henna, they have tears in their eyes. It finally dawns on them that they will be married and leaving the nest.
To me this is centuries old tradition that has such beautiful significance and would be one that I would never want to part with. Its romantic, its pretty, its colour and its home. Long may this continue and spread far and wide.
Tradition, to keep or not to keep?
So what about other traditions? Ones that we are keen on and the ones….not so much? Lets talk about those!
When I got married, there were a few traditions I was more than happy to take part in and some that I considered to not be relevant to me. My parents are the same as me and didn’t really pressure me into doing things I wasn’t comfortable to do, so I got to stay true to myself.
A choora (or chura; plural chooriyan) is a set of bangles traditionally worn by a bride on her wedding day and for a period after, especially in Punjabi weddings. I have grown up seeing brides wear their Choora for a whole year! I wore mine for about 3 weeks, after that it was just not practical for me. Drying each bangle after a shower, not to mention the patch of hair growing under them, it was just becoming a chore for me! So I didn’t continue this one! Although looking at my pictures wearing them does make me smile, and I have them in my bedside drawer ☺ To keep or not to keep?
Keeper for me!!! Traditionally, we have games after the wedding, and one is where the groom will have to find his initials in his brides henna. The wagers vary from family to family, but I have come up with a winner! If the groom finds his initials, his mew wife will cook him a gourmet meal. If he does not, he owes her a designer handbag of her choice!
Living with the In Laws
This is a hot topic and one that has very mixed reviews. Personally I like having our own place, but I think if the couple want to live with their parents then why not, although I do know about the strains it can cause on a whole family. I think expectation from society needs to drop and I am actually surprised at how old fashioned thinking is still very rife. people should just be able to do what is comfortable for them, there shouldn’t really be judgement on either side of the spectrum, however I know there still is. I think this doesn’t need to be a tradition but rather a choice.