The Henna tradition is as old as 9000 years. It was used as cosmetics in ancient Egypt and is universally popular in society today. Unlike many other old customs and social practices, henna, has survived the turbulence of history. Ancient cultures like the ones in Middle East, India and Africa made a ritual out of Mehandi and have contributed to making it one of the most traditional forms of Body art.
In the Indian culture Mehandi is associated with marriages, pregnancies and every other joyous occasion. Women look forward to sitting down with a Mehandi artist and enjoying the wonderful royal experience of Henna decoration. Friends and relatives often gather around to enjoy this. The aroma of Mehandi oil and Henna itself is intoxicating; the mud smells very rich and earthy. In India there is a belief that Mehandi is very auspicious and young girls or married women ornate their hands and feet for good luck, purity and joy!!
It is believed that the practice of Mehandi started out as an answer to the need for 'Personal air-conditioning' in the warmer regions. When the desert people of the warm desert regions of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Gujarat became aware of Henna's cooling properties, they dipped their hands and feet in a mud or paste made with the crushed leaves of the plant. Even when the paste was scraped off, they noticed, as long as the color remained visible, their body temperatures stayed low. Eventually some women grew tired of bright red palms and got more creative in terms of the application of the henna starting with big dot like patterns and then eventually making more intricate designs, which still had the same cooling effect but was more pleasing to the eye. Initially a thin instrument made of silver or ivory then most commonly used for applying kohl or liners to the eyes, became the instrument of choice for Henna application, and it is still in use in some desert villages of India today.However today in India the mylar/plastic cones are the widely used for henna application.Most of these cones made in Mumbai(where I come from) are made out of recycled plastic bags.
Here are some interesting scientific facts about Mehandi
Family Name: Lythraceae
Botanical Name: Lawsonia Inermis
Common Name: Mehandi. Henna, Heena, Al-Khanna, Al-Mehandi, Jamaica Mignonette, Mehndi, Mendee, Egyptian Privet, Smooth Lawsonia.
Physical form: Mehandi is a small tree or large shrub, growing to six meters high. It has lateral branches with leaves that grow in pairs, two to four centimeters long.
Growth Factors: The Mehandi tree grows in areas where the climate is relatively hot and dry. The states where Mehandi grows extensively in India is Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
The Mehandi leaves have a red-orange dye, lawsone, and the highest dye concentration is in the petiole (the central vein). Young leaves have the highest petiole dye content. These leaves contain "lawsonia", this substance provides the well known conditioning and coloring properties associated with our Mehandi Powders.
Mehandi Powder colors the hair in two ways, by penetration and by staining. The penetration of lawsonia imparts both color and condition into the hair and it closes and strengthens the outer cuticle of the hair, thus giving the superb shine and conditioning effect, which is the unique feature of Mehandi. Thus Mehandi has been known for centuries for its superb hair conditioning and coloring properties, no other substance, whether natural or synthetic, will strengthen the hair and give it shine as effectively as MEHANDI.
Mehandi is equally popular for temporary tattoos due to it being organic,temporary and painfree with no known side effects!