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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Hetal's Mehndi Ceremony

I have already published a handful of images from Hetal and Dzuy's wedding but here I wanted to dedicate a whole post to the art of mehndi.

For centuries, mehndi — the art of henna painting on the body — has been practiced in India, Africa, and the Middle East.  A paste made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant is applied to the skin, and when removed several hours later, leaves beautiful markings on the skin that fade naturally over 1 to 3 weeks.  The henna plant is believed to bring love and good fortune, and to protect against evil.


Mehndi is traditionally practiced for wedding ceremonies, during important rites of passage, and in times of joyous celebration.  As the story goes, the deeper the colour obtained on the skin, the longer the love between the couple will last; hence the belief that a proper mehndi application is tantamount to a prayer to the gods for everlasting love and a successful marriage.    It is also tradition that the groom’s name is usually written somewhere within the bride’s mehndi and if he cannot find his name within the complicated design, the bride is said to have the command in the marriage.


When Hetal first met me to discuss shooting her wedding she talked about the various ceremonies and I asked her if she would let me come to watch and photograph her mehndi evening.  As well as being fascinating and a photographic treat it was a lovely opportunity to meet some of Hetal's friends and family.  It was also my first introduction to the wonderful, close knit, community spirit of this culture.


Hetal's mehndi artist is Bhavna Patel of b-exquisite.


Enough words - time to enjoy the images and the art of it.  The last 2 shots show Hetal on her wedding day with all of the traditional wedding jewellery. Simply stunning.


































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