It is always good to experience the new, so I was delighted to accept when a friend invited me to her sisters Henna night before her impending wedding. The invite said ‘Come prepared to be hennaed’. As I prepared to get ready to go that evening, I was apprehensive about what that meant and wished I had given it more thought than the usual girlie nights. So I googled ‘henna what to expect’.
There I found a concise and clear informational guide about what henna is how it came about and explains how the bride is painted.
But it didn’t tell me the social etiquette – what do I bring?
What do I wear?
What am I expected to do?
and most importantly
How do I prepare to be hennaed?
What do you bring to a Henna Night?
Well nothing except yourself, there will be food and drinks provided by the brides party. This will probably be in the form of traditional Indian food and snacks served in white trays with several partitions in them and are the variety used in traditional Indian catering.
This allows you to try all the different dishes using the small sections on the tray and holds in the watery consistency of the foods such as the lentils.
Using your hands to eat is acceptable so mop away with your bread.
I always feel rather self-conscious here, being left handed, as I heard it is considered the unclean hand it being the one used for toileting oneself in some parts of the world.
What do you wear to a Henna Night?
The invite said to dress ‘vibrantly’. So several changes later, I dressed in what I thought was suitably vibrant. Throwing a bright coloured top with my jeans.
Mistake number one. Everyone was smartly dressed with the bride wearing a traditional Indian garment and most of the women with beautifully embroidered vibrant tops and elaborate saris.
Never had I felt so under dressed.
Tip : Wear loose flowing clothes, preferably with bright colours.
How do you prepare for a Henna Night?
Well this means just have a hand ready to be hennaed.
You don’t have to do any special preparation to your hand, you don’t have to bathe it in goats milk for three hours prior and cream it.
Tip : Have a shower before the event as after you won’t want to shower in order to maintain the Henna pattern for a bit longer.
Try to eat your meal before you are hennaed as it can get a bit tricky eating with the wet henna on your hand and you will not want to smudge it in those first moments.
How is the henna done at a Henna night?
The henna was applied free hand by two skills ladies. One spent the whole evening intermittently hennaeing the brides hands and arms back and front. They also usually do the brides feet.
The bride had prepared herself by showering before, and eating and the most important going to the toilet as it is rather tricky going to do ablutions with all this stuff covering your hands.
Sitting on the floor the make-up artist will ask which side of the hand you want the henna done on and if you have any design in mind.
As I have never had it done before, I left her to her own devices which was probably best as I wouldn’t know where to start.
Some women opted for a small symbol such a circle with patterns, or small flower on the top of the hand, one lady had a small henna on her shoulder so that his would show when wearing her sari.
It is totally your choice. I’d say if you are driving back then opt for the top of the hand rather than the palm as driving home could be rather tricky but a small plastic bag could also do the trick if needed.
What do you do after you had your henna applied?
Leave the henna to dry. It looks intricate in this state and it will drop off on its own as it dries.
It will be drying and peeling overnight and you will wake to a bed covered in henna bits the next morning as it falls off in the night.
This is the best way rather than trying to peel off the henna itself.
It probably won’t look so wonderful in this state but once you rub all the dried henna off you will reveal the most beautiful patterns which should last about two weeks.
To preserve the henna you can spray lemon juice onto it.
I am not one for tattoos but the henna really is beautiful and more so that it will not last forever.
The ladies at the henna night told us that the darker the henna goes the more the bride’s husband will love her therefore the covering of as much of her body as possible in order to to achieve this.
Everyone who attends the henna party should have some small henna done as this brings good luck to the bride.
On the Bride to be’s henna pattern the husbands name will be skillfully written in and as you can see from the design it is very intricate.
Inside this intricate pattern he is reported to have to find his name and if he is unable then the misfortune is that he cannot marry his bride.
Well I am sure that the age of digital technology will solve that dilemma and any astute bride will know what she needs to do – digital camera and click send – after all who wants to leave such a responsibility in the hands of a man.
Here’s to living your digital life
Spreading the word about the Digital World
Because there is another way!