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A freelance writer by profession, I have been blogging now for about two and half years. My other interests includes SEO. Blogging motivates me to learn about new things happening on WWW and also out of it. I would like to update my blog on a daily basis, but more than that I would like to write about the latest... fastest.

May 20, 2007

Mehandi / Hawsonia Inermis

Mehandi designs

From the time I can remember, I have always been an absolute admirer of a beautifully drawn mehandi and its soothing smell. A must in Indian weddings mehandi is generously and beautifully applied on the brides and many places also the bridegroom’s hands, followed by the close relatives and whoever else wants to. The whole marriage atmosphere becomes all the more auspicious with the delicate fragrance of Mehandi. With some, there is a custom of writing the groom’s name in a discreet manner on the bride’s hand; the name forms a part of the design. That later has to be found by the groom himself.

Like a Botanist would describe, when the leaves of ‘Lawsonia alba’ are grinded with water till a paste is formed, is when it gets the recognition of Mehandi. The modern approach is to first dry the leaves then powder it. It is very difficult to trace the origin of Mehandi; while some claim it was brought to India by one of the Invaders, there are other learnt ones who have evidence to believe its use existed in ancient India.

There are quite a lot of beliefs and practices associated with Mehandi. According to a certain tradition a newly wed bride is kept away from any house-hold work until the wedding mehandi in her hands completely fades. Therefore in the olden days large floral designs were put on a bride’s hands that would take long to fade, hmmm… planning and scheming started early!

It is also said that Mehandi keeps away all evil spirits and negative energies. While in some parts of the world Mehandi is considered to bring good fortune and prosperity and for this reason they apply mehandi on the main door of their house. In Egypt centuries ago, before the mummification process the hair, toes and finger nails of the bodies were brushed with a coating of henna.

Previously I only had a liking for its visual and fragrance effects however now I have also discovered the medicinal properties of Mehandi. Namely, it does wonder to minor skin diseases, works positively on dry skin, adds volume to hair. Apart from the mehandi paste, there are researches to prove the positive effect on joint pains from the oil extracted from Mehandi leaves.

It is undoubtedly one of the best gifts of nature with no negative effects, although a word of caution would be to stay away from black mehandi. It comprises of certain harmful chemicals that may damage the skin and never get mehandi applied from those sitting on roadside using block mehandi. They don’t use mehandi but some coloured liquid which may again harm the skin.

Last few decades have seen a rise in the interest of western countries towards this herb more for decoration purpose than its medicinal value. It is in the best interest of all to know about its benefits and make its best possible use.

For more information on this wonder herb and some excellent Mehandi designs check out the websites below.