Henna Ceremony

Henna and Mehndi: meaning


Henna is referred to as mehndi in India, ḥenna in Arabic, and finally lḥenni or anella in Berber.

The henna term comes from the Hebrew Hen and means "to find mercy".

Mehndī, also known as harqûs in the Maghreb, is an ephemeral tattoo. It is simply the art of drawing with henna on the skin.

Henna and mehndi are therefore two terms frequently associated with each other. They are synonymous but come from two different languages.

Henna is a plant (lawsonia inermis) found in India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt or Morocco, to name but a few.

Mehndi is the brown paste used to make the famous temporary tattoos, which last about 3 to 4 weeks. It comes from the dried leaves that are worked and then result into a powder.          



Henna and Mehndi: uses


Mehndi is used to make tattoos for newlyweds. It is most often performed on the hands and feet of brides-to-be. It is said to bring them prosperity and fertility in their marriage.

Mehndi is found at other key moments in Eastern life, especially during pregnancy.

Henna tattooing was originally found mainly among women from India and North Africa. But its use is tending to spread, not only for traditional or religious purposes, but purely for aesthetic reasons. It is thus increasingly found in Western countries.


Henna in Western countries


Henna also has other virtues: it has natural cooling properties. Thus, people from the desert have been using it for a very long time to temper their bodies.

More generally, henna is considered as a plant, which has curative and healing properties. It is also used to reduce fever.



The henna evening: origins and symbolism

Henna has been used for thousands of years in African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries during various celebrations. Contrary to what one might think, the henna ritual, and in this article the henna night ritual that interests us more particularly, is not of religious origin. We find the evening, or even the night of henna among Muslims, Jews and Hindus.

Henna is a symbol of feminine beauty, and in the end rather democratic because the poorest people could use it for lack of expensive jewellery.

In the Muslim tradition, it is as strong a symbol as wedding rings. It is supposed to bring baraka (luck) to the bride and groom.

Henna is generally reserved for women, for the various reasons that we explain to you right after on the unfolding of the evening.


Henna on hands and feet of the bride-to-be  

The Henna Ceremony unfolding

The henna ceremony, or the celebration, night or evening of henna, is one of the different stages of the oriental wedding. The young engaged couple will have taken care beforehand to announce their wedding with a pretty oriental announcement: this can be done either in a traditional or more modern way, but always with beautiful papers and a very present symbolism.



Wedding invitation -Iridescent grey pocketfold & embossed silver medallion/pink satin



The henna ceremony is the Oriental equivalent of a Western bridal shower. Its unfolding differs from region to region. On the other hand, it still marks the transition from the bride-to-be to the bride's status.


Henna celebration usually takes place at the bride's parents' home, with the wives of her family, in-laws and friends to celebrate the upcoming wedding. Depending on the region, it takes place seven days before the wedding, or just the day before. In Western countries or in large cities, brides-to-be sometimes hold this evening in a room rented for the occasion.

Gifts are brought by the guests, the dishes are shared and followed by dances, all in the middle of a festive atmosphere that allows the women of both families to get to know each other better.

Henna is applied by one of the invited women, or a professional called for the occasion, like a nekacha in the Maghreb. Colour and patterns vary according to the region. On this occasion, the young wife wears a beautiful traditional dress, of a green colour in the Maghreb for example.

Among Muslims, the groom sometimes gets one of his fingers coated or a round in the middle of the palm. However, according to interpretations, the application of henna on men is not always well considered. This remains a choice at the discretion of the families.

Among Indian women, the groom's initials are hidden on the bride's hands.  The young man will have the task of finding them on the wedding night. So he's not supposed to be at the henna party. Again, this is a decision up to the families.


Regardless of the region and belief (Muslim, Hindu or Jewish), the henna ceremony remains an Oriental wedding ritual. It marks the transition to the bride's status as wife, and the mehndi helps her to affirm her beauty and seduce her fiancé on the eve of the wedding.


Oriental wedding cards luxurious parchment