ehndi is the art of henna painting on the body and it has been practiced in different countries like India, Africa, and the Middle East, where the henna plant is believed to bring love and good fortune, and to protect against evil. Mehndi is traditionally practiced for wedding ceremonies, during important rites of passage, and in times of joyous celebration.
Mehndi is widely accepted as a form of spiritual celebration and worship as well as common cosmetic. Oppi Untract, an author and expert on ethnic Indian adornment, states, “by adorning the visible, material body, women also seek to satisfy a universal longing for the embellishment of its intangible counterpart, the human spirit.1” A woman’s first application of mehndi is around the time of her first menstruation. It transforms her from a virgin child to a seductress—this is when she is taught the “arts of love,” and begins to prepare herself for marriage. Mehndi is listed in the Kama Sutra as one of the 64 arts for women. Mehndi paste is made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant is applied to the skin, and when removed several hours later, leaves beautiful markings on the skin that fade naturally over 1 to 3 weeks. Besides being the key ingredient in mehndi, henna has also been used to dye the manes and hooves of horses, and to color wool, silk, and animal skins, as well as men's beards. Studies of mummies dating back to 1BC show that henna was used on the hair and nails of the pharaohs.