Henna, Henna, Bo, Benna!

I got married over 3 years ago and it was one of the best days of my life.  Right up there with the birth of my son.  My culture is so rich and there is so much symbolism involved with weddings and the preparations.  I wanted to show you one little part of the preparations.  Henna!!

Henna is now commercially cultivated in western India, Pakistan, Morocco, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and Bangladesh. Though henna has been used for body art and hair dye since the Bronze Age, henna has had a recent renaissance in body art due to improvements in cultivation, processing, and the emigration of people from traditional henna using regions.

The history is rich and complex, but basically many cultures used it as adornment for many occasions.  The most popular or well known is for the wedding.  I had mine done for my wedding and it was a big production.  A few days before the wedding I went to the artist’s house and spent about 3 hours getting my hands, up to almost my elbow, done.  Mind you, you have to keep the henna on for quite some time so you basically can’t use your hands. This means a really wonderful sibling or best friend has to take you to the bathroom, feed you, pull your hair back, and scratch itches.  And of course I had to pee as soon as both hands were done!

Here’s my husband feeding me:

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There is great symbolism involved here.  I was told by my elders on my wedding day that we were waiting to see what color showed up on my hands.  Rather, HOW MUCH color showed up.  The darker the henna, the deeper my husband’s love for me.  Wouldn’t you know it, it was near black 🙂  I’m not sure how true this is…scientifically speaking I think it shows how deep my love is because the turning of the color is probably catalyzed by body heat.  The symbols that are drawn on to the body also have meaning.  For example they can represent prosperity, fertility, good fortune.  The placement also has great meaning.  The palm of the hand is open and offering.  The back of the hand acts as a shield-closing, defending, clenching-symbolizing protection.  The feet are recognized as a point of divine contact, considered a holy junction, where Human being and Earth meet.  The right hand represents the male/protection and the left hand represents the female or receptiveness.  I just love these parts of my culture…the history, symbolism, and deep meaning of everything you do.  I will post my wedding program so that you guys can read about the meanings of each little step.  You’ll be amazed at how much each little move of the body has meaning.

Anyway, whether foretold by the henna or not, our love is strong and everlasting.

Here are some pictures of my henna:

Here it is being applied:

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Here it is once applied:

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Now after a whole day and keeping it soaked in lime juice and sugar…and sleeping with grocery bags wrapped on my hands….here it is:

(There’s not a lot of close ups of my hands, but you can tell just from the darkness that the color turned really well!)

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What a fun night!

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One thought on “Henna, Henna, Bo, Benna!

  1. instillari says:

    awesome pictures!

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