Monday, 29 December 2014
Brief History of Henna
History shows ‘henna’ or ‘mehndi’ is over 9000 years old and that the art of henna art has been practiced for over 5000 years in South Asia, Africa, and Middle East. Henna has natural cooling properties; therefore, people in the warmer climates used to put henna paste of the palm of their hands and soles of their feet to get an air conditioning affect. Later on making decorative designs with the paste came in to effect.
The poor wore henna as a sort of jewellery in those times as they could not afford the gold and silver to adorn themselves; whereas, the rich wore it for decorative purpose.
Henna has been used for centuries to dye skin, hair, and fingernails but also to dye fabrics like silk, wool, and leather.
Henna is a plant, is considered an herb, and has long been known to have healing properties. In ancient times it has been used to cure headaches, stomach pains, burns (including sunburns) open wounds, as a fever reducer, and to prevent hair loss. It is also a natural sunblock and is still used on animals’ noses to prevent them from getting sunburn.
Henna holds special traditional significances and practices in cultures around South Asia, Africa, and Middle East. A common practice is to decorate the hands of the bride with henna. In South Asian culture, adorning the hands of a bride or a married woman is a sign of prosperity and success but most importantly a sign of her “Suhaag” – of her being married. Also traditionally, it was believed that as long as the henna colour appears on the bride’s hands, she doesn’t have to do house work.
There are many superstitions attached to henna when it comes to a South Asian married woman. And although many people don’t believe these superstitions, there are many that do.
For example, the darker the colour of henna on the bride, the better the marriage; the darker the stain on her feet, the better the mother-in-law will be; and the darker the colour on her hands, the more loving husband she’ll have.