It is an old, anicent tradition of beauty for women going through various stages of life as well as men.
Thousends of years old, the henna plant is ground into a fine powder, made into a paste and then applied to the skin in lovely patterns. I remember seeing the Henna applied first hand in Morocco; it looks like buttrfly wings that have been woven into gloves and slipped onto the hands and feet.
Brides in Africa, The MiddleEast and The Mediterranean, Jews, Muslims, Hindi and Christians brides have henna parties the night before their weddings. It is also done for preparation of the birth of a child, coming of age, birthdays the circumcision of a son and for a Warrior when he comes home victorious from war.
And I wanted this lovely custom for my wedding.
We ordered Chinese Food and tried to make it fun. But because only my Matron of Honour was willing to take part and then learning I had dropped my wallet (a very nice man called to tell me he found it. It just had our Wedding Plans, Mark's orders, my ID and a few hundred dollars.) the fun went out the door.
Plus the henna needed to settle for 24 hours.
So instead of getting it done Thrusday, it was Friday evening.
But Isabelle, my niece who did the artwork, had drawn the template on my hands and feet.
Henna actually feels good on the skin and has a reddish-brown to black colouring. With my skin colour, my Henna would come out a Dessert Rose, just a few shades darker than my hair.
Once dry and the henna is bushed off, you must take care not to wash the hands and feet for ateast 24 hours. In other cultures, this is the reason why the Bride has bridesmaids; to help her not only dress, but even to eat and bath her.
I used plastic gloves to cover my hands and feet. The pattens usually last with care betwee three and six weeks. The reason is to give the bride and groom time to get to know each other and enjoy each other. It is said as long as the Henna lasts, so does the Honeymoon.
Mine lasted six weeks.The next morning, when I went to pickup the wedding gown, the Indian ladies who had worked on my gown was fluttering about me, giggling like little girls. They had never seen an American Bride with Henna and it thrilled them to no bitss that there was someone who understand and appreacted the wonder of Henna.