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What Are Eid Mehndi?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Eid mehndi refers to the intricate designs drawn on the hands of Muslim women using henna ink to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fast. Eid-Ul-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that falls on the first day of the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, and the festivities last for three days. Frequently referred to simply as Eid, the holiday is similar to New Year’s Day. During this holiday, observant Muslims are forbidden to fast. Although attending prayers is not obligatory, Muslims are encouraged to go for fellowship. They are also encouraged to dress up in their best clothes. For many Muslim women in South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East or women whose heritage is based in these cultures, dressing up for Eid includes wearing Eid mehndi.

The term mehndi simply refers to the henna used as the ink. Henna has been used as a dye for centuries, coloring the hair of women, the beards of men, and the manes and tales of horses. Believed to have healing properties, henna was also used to dye hands and feet. There is some evidence that the practice began with the Egyptian pharaohs before becoming popular in other regions.

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In addition to Eid mehndi, women decorate themselves with mehndi tattoos for other important occasions and holidays. Brides will wear elaborate mehndi during their weddings on their hands, feet, forearms, and shins. In some cultures, they must include the name of the groom in the design to show their intended obedience to their future husband. While men do not generally wear mehndi, some grooms will use a simple dot design to decorate their hands.

Types of mehndi vary by region. Women in India tend to prefer more abstract, linear designs, while Middle Easterners tend to choose floral designs. Mehndi are often a deep brownish-red, although nowadays the henna can come in different colors. Typically the ink will not fade for two or three weeks after application, depending on the quality of the henna and how often the hands are washed.

Many women choose to schedule an appointment to have their Eid mehndi done by a skilled artist, but others may choose to purchase stencils or attempt to draw their own designs. There are a number of online tutorials available showing women carefully crafting the tattoo using fine-tipped henna pens. Other sites collect images of Eid mehndi, so women can copy those designs for their own use.

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Clairdelune
Post 7

@Esther11 - In answer to how henna ink is made - nowadays it is usually bought in a cone - ready-made. But today in the rural areas in India, it is made from the Lawsonia or henna plant leaves that grow in the tropical areas. The youngest leaves give the best color. The leaves are ground down to a powder with a stone and mixed with oil.

The bridal mehndi designs in India and other countries are some of the most beautiful that can be found. There are many designs with intricate flower and leaf paintings. They are elaborate and cover a good part of the hands and feet. Today many colors are used and sometimes jewels are affixed among the designs. They add to the beauty of the bride and everyone who attends the event is always anxious to see the bride's mehndi designs

Esther11
Post 6

I think that using mehndi designs and henna ink to make a beautiful design on your body is a lovely, natural way to enhance your body. There are also some beautiful tattoos, but you can't remove them. Mehndi is nice because after the ink design fades away in a few weeks, you can make a new design.

I'm curious to know what material is used to make the henna ink, and how it is made?

I used to teach adult ESL classes. Some of my students from India showed me the Mehndi designs that they had put on their hands. The students were very proud of their designs.

pennywell
Post 5

How do you make a mehndi pen? I've only ever seen it available in commercial tubes with a very thin nozzle at the end so that the person can apply it directly from the tube.

alianor
Post 4

@ysmina - Ethnic stores in your area will either stock tubes of mehndi or they might be able to tell you where to purchase it from. Henna designs are normally quite intricate with a focus on floral patterns. Do a search online and I'm sure you'll find several patterns and tutorials. The design looks black when it is first applied and still wet. As the mixture dries and hardens, it can be brushed off, leaving a red mehendi design on the skin. Over time, as the dye slowly fades, it will go from red to orange before fading away entirely.

SteamLouis
Post 3

@ysmina-- Are there any Southeast Asian communities where you live?

My best friend had mehndi done for her wedding and she found an Indian lady that came to her house with everything and did the mehndi for her. You could find someone like that who would do the design for you.

And yes, the design can be done on hands, arms, feet and legs. Back home, for Eid celebrations, I would have it done on my hands and feet. We would dress up and it completed the look.

If you don't know anyone who can do it for you, you can get dry henna or pre-mixed henna at International grocery stores. Look up designs like the

article suggested and try it. It takes some practice but if you are good at drawing and art, it will come very naturally for you.

Henna is natural and the advantage is that it fades off. So if you change your mind, you are not stuck with it forever.

ysmina
Post 2

Are mehndi designs only done on the hands? I want to learn how to do mehndi designs, but wanted to try it on my arm. I was going to get a permanent tattoo but I don't think that I am ready for that. So I thought that I would get mehndi designs and that would give me a couple weeks to see if I like it. It's also much healthier than tattoos.

How do I start out with mehndi? Where do I get the mehndi and prepare it?

I have also seen mehndi pictures where the design is black, not red. Is that something different than henna?

serenesurface
Post 1

Mehndi culture is different in different countries. In my country, mehndi is only done for the bride before the wedding and it is not made with designs, just a circular shape in the palms.

But I love the mehndi culture of Southeast Asia. The designs are just beautiful. I have Indian and Pakistani friends and we have done Eid Mehndi together for Eid events and dinners. It was so much fun! It was like a girl get together. My friend did the mehndi on my hands, she had practice from before. We mixed the mehndi ourselves and made the pen ourselves too. We did get help from mehndi design books though.

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