Folklore: Indian Weddings – Henna
The one I personally love the best, few years before the actual wedding, all the ladies of the wedding family would put on henna, its a plant that can dye your skin in pretty flower designs. I asked my mom why we do that — the bride will put it on the arm to the elbow and the feet up the calves. They put the lemon juice on so itll make it stay. Its a very dark red stain on your skin. But it comes off quicker with water and rubbing. The story goes that the brides mom put on henna, and the daughter would go to the boys family and live with his family as tradition. The grooms mom would see how hard the new bride worked. If she does laundry or do dishes, chores involved with water, if she would do them early on, the henna would come off quicker, probably in a week. Its the way the mom can see how the new bride was working in the home. That was in ancient times. Now, its how lazy the bride is.
Henna is an accessory, its fun, takes about an hour to dry. Its a temporary tattoo, a sign that youre a close member of the bride/grooms family, a bond over henna. The henna artist would hide the grooms name really small, which kind of means that the girl wont do anything on the wedding night unless the groom finds the name.
Henna is a beautiful form of folk art that has turned into sort of a franchise. Tina said at her sisters wedding they had a professional come and do everyones arms. It is traditionally done only for women and as a way to bond with one other. To have something engraved into your skin also symbolizes the hopeful permanence of the wedding and blessings for the new couple.
Annotation: Entire book on planning an Indian wedding
Gill, Sarbjit K. Gill. A Comprehensive Indian Wedding Planner. Bookmark Press, 2002. Found on page 12.