Mehndi (mehendi) is the application of henna (India: हेना حنا) as a temporary form of skin decoration, most popular in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Somaliland as well as expatriate communities from these areas. It is typically employed for special occasions, particularly weddings. Henna Body Art is a painless, harmless and beautiful form of body painting that fades within a short period.
Henna/Mehndi paste is usually applied to the skin using a plastic cone or a paint brush, but sometimes a small metal-tipped jacquard bottle used for silk painting (a jac bottle) is used. The painted area is then wrapped with tissue, plastic, or medical tape to lock in body heat, creating a more intense colour on the skin. The wrap is worn overnight and then removed. The final colour is reddish brown and can last anywhere from two weeks to several months depending on the quality of the paste.
The patterns of mehndi are typically quite intricate and predominantly applied to brides before wedding ceremonies. However, traditions in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan sometimes expect bridegrooms to be painted as well. In Rajasthan (northwest India), where mehndi is a very ancient folk-art, the grooms are given designs that are often as elaborate as those for brides.
Mehndi/Henna decorations became fashionable in the West in the late 1990s, where they are sometimes called "henna tattoos". This term isn't accurate, because tattoos are defined as permanent surgical insertion of pigments underneath the skin, as opposed to pigments resting on the surface.
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