Mehendi is a red dye used in many Hindu celebrations, most notably in wedding ceremonies. The red color represents the prosperity the new bride will bring to her family. Temporary Mehendi patterns are painlessly applied to the skin, which has made them a fashionable alternative to tattoos in American culture.
The dye used for this process comes from a small shrub called the Mehendi, which has leaves that are dried and ground into a deep red paste. It is used as a conditioner and dye for the hair, but one of its most important uses is its application during preparations for a Hindu wedding.
A day before the wedding, Mehendi paste is placed in a cone with the end snipped off and used to draw patterns onto the skin of the bride and her attendants. As the dye is allowed to dry for three to four hours, the paste becomes crusted. During this time, the bride listens to marriage advice from companions and wise elders. The paste is then washed off, and color from the dye remains on the skin for weeks.
Mehendi is seen in Western culture mainly as a fashion statement. It was introduced by Hollywood trend-setters such as Demi Moore and Gwen Stefani and magazines such as ?Cosmopolitan,? ?Vanity Fair? and ?Harper?s Bazaar.?