Event 3: Mehndi/Bridal Shower (girl)

Traditionally on the mendhi night, the girl is in a yellow outfit, tinged with green. Friends and sisters walk in with small candles placed in trays or clay pots . These are then laid out on the floor infront of where the girl will be seated and are decorated with gold tinsel or beading.

The girl is customary led to the stage, under the shade of a yellow/green scarf which is held up by 6 female relatives, cousins or sisters . She is usually without make up and/or cosmetics and jewellery – a real plain Jane. This is purposely done making her appearance on the wedding day when adorned with jewellery, spectacular make up, henna-ed hands, arms and feet all the more breath-taking and beautiful.

Guests (usually only ladies both from the girls side and the grooms side) apply a dollop of henna on the girls hands (to prevent the hands from being stained a napkin or paan leaf is placed on the palm) and a tinge of oil dabbed into the hair. She is then fed some sweets and gifted money (which is to symbolise warding off the evil eye). The groom does not attend this ceremony as both bride and groom are not allowed to see one another until the wedding day (post nikkah).

The bride’s sisters, sister-in-laws and/or cousins will tie a “ghaani” on the bride – which is a yellow flower on a piece of yellow string, this symbolises their tie , love and bond with the bride. Sometimes the mother in law will also partake in tying the ghaani on the wrist of her daughter in law. Its similar in analogy to “raksha bandhan” which Hindu’s partake in to demonstrate their love and affection for their brother on their special holiday

Another part in preparation for the henna night done by some is applying the uptan. Uptan is a paste made of turmeric, sandalwood and other various herbs and are applied on the arms and legs of the bride to be, by her mother, sisters, aunts and friends. This is to make her skin glow in preparation for the henna night and to ward off the evil eye. Some believe it to be good luck too. The bride is then washed down by 7 happily wedded women – each pouring a bucket of water on the bride. This symbolises luck and happiness in the wish that the fortune of these 7 wedded women, in terms of marital bliss, may rub off onto the bride to be. She is then left to wash up and the evening comes to an end.

Its generally a joyous occasion, with many colourful outfits, music, banter, dancing and giddiness. Bright colours are worn – such as yellows, oranges and greens. However recently pastel shades such as baby pink, baby blue have also been worn. The bride’s sisters and/or friends execute a number of practised dances for entertainment. This could also include the boys, who do their own dances or pair up with the girls and have a girls vs boys ensemble

Event 4: Mendhi Night (boy)

For the men who have a henna night, they are usually only subjected to the first portion of the events, such as being fed sweets, have the ghaani tied and oil in their hair, dollop of henna on their hands and gifting money.

With the groom to be there is room and opportunity to be mischevious and this is often took advantage of. Friends, and cousins (male and female) of the groom will forcefully stuff large sweets in his mouth, or jokingly apply henna on his hair as opposed to his hands. It has also been known to naughtily pour the whole bowlful of oil in the grooms hair! This is all done in a lighthearted manner and designed to tease the groom.

The girl may have henna formally applied to her hands, arms, feet and lower legs (and/or upper, whatever tickles your fancy!) on the henna night whilst the dances/entertainmentΒ are taking place. These henna prints are usually of intricate patterns which contains flowers, swirls and paisley patterns. Superstition has it, the darker the henna the more loved the bride will be by her mother-in-law.
In addition to the henna patterning, the initials or name of the groom may be hidden in the design. This acts as an icebreaker on the wedding night where a game of him looking for his name on her palms ensues (I have yet to hear having the grooms name/initials being hennaed to the girls legs – but you never know, maybe one day that’ll be the norm!)
Next Event 5;6 7 – Nikkah, Baraat, Rukhsati