Ever wondered why most Malay or Indian brides in Singapore have their hands and feet decorated with henna before their wedding day?
Is there any significance behind it?
The application of henna as temporary form of skin decoration is known as mehndi. They are widely used in countries like Egypt, Morocco and India during special occasions like weddings, engagements and other festivals like Divali.
It was found that the use of henna dates back to the days of Pharaoh when they decorated the bodies before mummification to please the gods and guarantee a pleasant trip after death.
Try to imagine Egyptian mummies with finely decorated hands and feet in the pyramids.
The traditional use of henna on brides is a celebrated affair, especially in Hindu culture.
The ritual is considered so sacred that unless the mother-in-law has applied the first dot of henna to the bride’s hand, the painting cannot go ahead. The stain gets darker with time as the henna is left on the skin for hours and many brides believe that a deeply coloured design is a sign of good luck.
Anyway, can it be nothing but a superstitious belief?
A way to escape from household chores during the last remaining hours of singlehood perhaps?
Whatever the reason, the art of henna has now been adopted by other parts of the world and used primarily for its aesthetic value. Thanks to Madonna and other pop icons who used henna during their performances, henna is no longer restricted to brides or special ocassions.
Last accessed on 18 May 2009)
You may wish to check out the following books for more information:
Everything you need to know about mehndi, temporary tattoos, and other temporary body art
Stefanie Iris Weiss
Y STU 391.6 WEI
The art of Mehndi
English 391.6 BAT -[CUS]
Mehndi : the timeless art of henna painting
391.6 ROO -[CUS]
To check the availabilities and locations, please use our online catalogue at http://catalogue.nlb.gov.sg/
Posted by Rosjihanah Mon
Associate Librarian, Children’s Services