Wedding Custom – Indian

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, it’s 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 it’ll make it stay. It’s a very dark red stain on your skin. But it comes off quicker with water and rubbing. The story goes that the bride’s mom put on henna, and the daughter would go to the boy’s family and live with his family as tradition. The groom’s 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. It’s the way the mom can see how the new bride was working in the home. That was in ancient times. Now, it’s how lazy the bride is.

Henna is an accessory, it’s fun, takes about an hour to dry.  It’s a temporary tattoo, a sign that you’re a close member of the bride/groom’s family, a bond over henna. The henna artist would hide the groom’s name really small, which kind of means that the girl won’t do anything on the wedding night unless the groom finds the name.

My Analysis:

Henna is a beautiful form of folk art that has turned into sort of a franchise. Tina said at her sister’s wedding they had a professional come and do everyone’s 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.