Mehndi (mehendi) is the application of henna (India:
हेना حنا) as a temporary form of skin decoration, most popular in South
Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Somaliland as well as expatriate
communities from these areas. It is typically employed for special
occasions, particularly weddings. Henna Body Art is a painless, harmless
and beautiful form of body painting that fades within a short period.
Henna/Mehndi paste is usually applied to the skin using a plastic cone
or a paint brush, but sometimes a small metal-tipped jacquard bottle
used for silk painting (a jac bottle) is used. The painted area is then
wrapped with tissue, plastic, or medical tape to lock in body heat,
creating a more intense colour on the skin. The wrap is worn overnight
and then removed. The final colour is reddish brown and can last
anywhere from two weeks to several months depending on the quality of
The patterns of mehndi are typically quite intricate and predominantly
applied to brides before wedding ceremonies. However, traditions in
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan sometimes expect bridegrooms to be
painted as well. In Rajasthan (northwest India), where mehndi is a very
ancient folk-art, the grooms are given designs that are often as
elaborate as those for brides.
Mehndi/Henna decorations became fashionable in the West in the late
1990s, where they are sometimes called "henna tattoos". This term isn't
accurate, because tattoos are defined as permanent surgical insertion of
pigments underneath the skin, as opposed to pigments resting on the
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