:What is Henna?
Basics: Henna is often referred to as Mehndi and is the Hindi name used to describe henna, henna painting, and resulting designs. It is a shrub-like plant termed Lawsonia Inermis that grows in very warm, dry climates such as Africa and India. It is used in many parts of the world as a form of body adornment and for many different types of celebrations, especially weddings. The plant is ground into powder form, mixed with essential oils, teas, and other "terps" to release a dye. A paste is made, which can take up to 24 hours to complete, and then it is applied to the skin. The paste stays on the skin for a minimum of 4 hours, and when taken off it leaves a kind of temporary tattoo. It is a completely painless process and can smell absolutely amazing.
Uses: Henna can be used to dye the hair and is said to condition and strengthen it as well. Where do you think Lucille Ball got that fabulous red-orange tint?! It has many medicinal functions throughout the world including use as an antiseptic for bruises and burns, to treat ringworm, headaches, and athlete's foot, and also to dye leather, cloth, and animal hooves.
Meaning: Loretta Roome writes in "Mehndi. The Timeless Art of Henna Painting," the role of henna painting in the divya-katha involves Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and the most powerful of the Hindu deities. According to the tale, his consort, Parvati, would decorate herself with henna in order to please him and win his favor. He respondied to her charms and, being a very difficult husband to please, earned mehndi the association of irresistible sensual allure and marital prosperity. This may also be the reason that mehndi is thought to placate the gods and ingratiate the adorned woman, protecting her and her family from misfortune."
Many Indian cultures will hide the names of the groom within bridal henna so the husband can try to find it later. Long lasting henna can symbolize a long marriage, a good relationship with the mother-in-law, luck and joy. When particular symbols are used, henna can have any meaning that suits your personality or taste. It has become quite popular in the West now as a form of temporary tattoo.
Black Henna Warning: My henna is 100% natural. Be wary of any henna artist that says they can give you a black henna tattoo. ALL natural henna is dark green when applied and only dries to an almost black appearance. Natural henna is considered red because it leaves a red stain. Black henna does not exist and is actually PPD or Para-Phenylenediamine. It is synthetic hair dye and it will either make you sick, or even worse, scar you! If your henna artist cannot tell you what is in her henna.....R.U.N.