Estelea's Blog

French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.

Intricate Mehndi

When I was living in India, my favorite week end treat was to wake up early and wander in markets. It’s an unique experience for all the senses, the flagrance of the spices and fresh cut herbs (and man.. those samosas!), the mountains of fabrics of all shades of materials, the sparkly bangles..

If you are fortunate enough to have an Indian friend, s/he’ll share with you beautiful wedding stories, where toe rings and red bangles mean much more than you thought..

Indian markets are a tribute to art. A humble yet beautiful one. Like in this tiny little street, where women of all ages are patiently queuing.intricatehenna1

They are here to leave their hands to the talent of those men who draw with henna (mehndi) on their palm, back of the hand and sometimes on their feet. Initially sed as a form of decoration mainly for Hindu brides, this henna is typically applied during weddings and festivals.


In India, it is said that henna has been used since at least 700 AD for decorating hands and feet. Henna paste is usually applied on the skin using a plastic cone or a paint brush. After about 15–20 minutes, the mud will dry and begin to crack, and during this time, a mixture of lemon juice and white sugar can be applied over the henna design to remoisten the henna mud so that the henna will stain darker. The final color is reddish brown and can last anywhere from one to three weeks.

Professor Wikipedia told me that the drawings are intended to be a symbolic representation of the outer and the inner sun. Can any of my Indian friend tell me more?..

The work is so precious, so intricate, I have always wandered what if a mosquito bites you on the arm during the drawing? what a torture it must be, to be able to focus long enough on your breathing to forget the pain and admire the work. Absolutely worth it though !


18 comments on “Intricate Mehndi

  1. Julia
    May 4, 2015

    Very interesting:)

    • estelea
      May 11, 2015

      Thanks for stopping by Julia:) Have you ever tried one?

  2. anotherday2paradise
    May 4, 2015

    Such intricate artwork. I’m sure I couldn’t sit still for so long. 🙂

  3. luciledegodoy
    May 4, 2015

    That’s an original choice for the challenge and surely an intricate one, full of symbolism.
    But I had to laugh with the mosquito bite. 😉

    • estelea
      May 5, 2015

      😉 can you imagine? I was contemplating the work and I couldn’t get rid of the thought! No pb, I thought, I can go for a manicure and a Tiffany’s ring, I ll look as beautiful for sure 😉

      • luciledegodoy
        May 5, 2015

        You’re absolutely unique and special! 😘

      • estelea
        May 5, 2015

        😉 (still haven’t found a way to get the hubby open Tiffany’s door though.. Maybe if there is a fire in the street and the shop happens to be the only safe haven?.. That would be a first step into the right direction!)

      • luciledegodoy
        May 5, 2015

        Omg no success yet? This sounds like a plan! Lol

  4. Amy
    May 4, 2015

    Very intricate… a mosquito bite would be a torture. 🙂

    • estelea
      May 5, 2015

      for sure! for some reason I couldn’t think about anything else when they asked me if I wanted a drawing too 😉

  5. LifestyleswithLia
    May 4, 2015

    It’s my dream to get a mehndi on my hands! My friend got married in India and she showed me photos…it is amazing the intricacy of the art of painting mehndi and how long you must hold still to wait for it to dry. Yes, if a mosquito lands on you, you’ve got to be strong!!
    Lovely post and lucky for you that you lived in India..what an amazing country!

    • estelea
      May 5, 2015

      India is indeed amazing, you should get married here, like in a Bollywood movie, coming to your party riding an elephant, all jewels and mehndi.. A total fusion kind of wedding, replacing the rice with pasta 🙂 Have you been to India yet?

      • LifestyleswithLia
        May 5, 2015

        I must must get to India one day! I can imagine how magical a place it is!
        Yes replacing rice with pasta! Lol that would make for a great Italian -Indian wedding!

      • estelea
        May 6, 2015

        There is so much to see in India, so many different places, climates, people.. If you chose to visit South, you’ll adore their Extremely spicy food 😛

      • LifestyleswithLia
        May 6, 2015

        Indeed from what I’ve read, it’s a country of a variety of splendors! and ah, the spicy food sounds amazing.

  6. Ann GrubbsnCritters
    May 6, 2015

    It’s a piece of work those! I like watching people doing it but don’t like it on delicate and intricate! We hv those in our traditional weddings too – they took weeks or maybe mths to disappear. The scent can be a bit overwhelming. And everyone knows you are a newly-wed!! I opted for nail polish on my wedding instead! Relatives not too happy!😜

    • estelea
      May 6, 2015

      really, they can last that long? do you know what kind of product they are using? I’ll opt for the gel mani and the Tiffany ring, this is how simple and discreet I am 😉
      But yes you are right, this is so delicate, so beautiful. And those guys seem to draw so easily…

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This entry was posted on May 4, 2015 by in Exploring the neighborhood, Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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