Traditionally, brides adorn their hands and feet with breathtaking patterns that mimic the embroidery in their bridal gowns & jewelry. The palms are decorated with the most intricacy because they come out the darkest. The backs of the hands can be just as detailed but usually tend to be a little more subtle on the hand and more detailed on the arm. Most brides decorate their arms to the elbow so that the henna can show through the bangles which often cover half of the forearm. The feet are similarly decorated and can cover as far as the knees. These fine-detailed patterns can take 2-6 hours depending upon intricacy and coverage.
Today women of all cultures are adopting the beauty of the henna body painting and Indian rituals (wearing saris, bindis, etc.) in their weddings as well as other special events.
Indian women receive henna tattoos most often for their weddings. There are some salons, particularly in India, that offer henna tattoo services for weddings, or for Indian festivals like Diwali. However, in many cases, henna girls, or young women who are skilled in the art of henna application, will come to the woman’s home to apply Indian henna designs. To prepare for a wedding, henna flower designs are often drawn on the bride’s hands or feet. About three days before a woman gets married, it is customary for her to invite all her female family members to her home for a mehndi ceremony. All the women get their hands and feet decorated with henna tattoos, but the bride’s tattoos are the most detailed. The images seen in the tattoo often include flora designs, as a symbol of fertility. Most Indian brides aspire to start a family with their husbands, and want their children to be healthy and happy.