How henna marked traditions in South Asia and the Arab world – Doha News

The dye, which is cultivated from the henna tree and other plants, has marked the region with its various uses.

For centuries, henna has been cultivated in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and other parts of the world as an art form, medicine and has even been traditionally used to ward off evil spirits. and bad luck in some cultures.

Henna also holds an important place in Islamic traditions. In fact, some Muslim men can use henna as a dye for their hair and beards. This is considered sunna, a laudable tradition of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad.

The name ‘Henna ‘refers to the dye derived from henna tree, reseda tree and Egyptian privet, as well as the art of tattoo of these dyes. Henna has been used since ancient times and is found in a multitude of different cultures.

Often times, the dye is used to create body art that is typically worn on occasions and celebrations. The art of henna differs from country to country in terms of color, pattern and placement.


In some parts of Palestine, Henna is worn on a Henna Night, which takes place a week or two before a wedding. Most Palestinian brides opt for floral designs to match their dresses, as well as palm tree and leaf shapes.

Friends and relatives of the bride join her for the celebration on this night, which includes food, drinks, dancing, and a woman in charge of drawing henna on the bride and guests.

Source: PaliRoots

The bride’s henna design is usually the most intricate and often takes hours, while the guests’ designs will be smaller and usually limited to the backs of the hands or arms. However, henna can also often be placed simply in a circle in the palm rather than in elaborate designs.

The tradition is practiced by all religious groups in Palestine.


In Sudan, henna dyes are regarded with special holiness and for this reason, they are always present on joyous occasions such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha as well as weddings.

Henna has been part of the social and cultural heritage of Sudan since the ancient civilizations of the country, where the bride and groom pigmented their hands and feet with the natural dye.

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Like Palestinians, Sudanese culture also includes a henna night before a wedding. At this Henna party, the bride is decorated with Henna on her hands and legs to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.

The groom also has his own Henna party where his male friends and his wife’s family join him. He painted with henna on his hands and legs to indicate that he is a groom.

In Sudanese tradition, it is said that once you get married you are expected to always wear henna on your hands, otherwise you will be blamed for not caring about your husband.

India and Pakistan

In India and Pakistan, henna is called Mehndi and is generally applied at weddings and Hindu festivals like Diwali and Teej. Muslims in South Asian countries also apply Mehndi at weddings and festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

In India, Hindu women have designs and tattoos on their hands and feet on these occasions. Wedding ceremonies in North India include an evening solely dedicated to decorating the bride and groom in Mehndi. This night is called “Mehndi ki raat”.

Indian tradition says that the longer your henna stays on your hand, the longer it is believed that your in-laws will treat you well. If the henna wears off quickly, it is a sign of an unhappy marriage.

Indian Mehndi style encompasses all kinds of artwork. This could include paisley patterns, flowers, plaid patterns, dots, hidden names, and items of traditional significance.

Pakistani Mehndi Design

Likewise in Pakistan, the Mehndi ceremony is known as “Rasm-e-Heena” and is considered to be one of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies performed by the families of the bride and groom. Henna is applied to the palms and feet.

Pakistani henna is known for its detailed and fine fillings, and includes mandalas, domes, and leaves. This style has bold contours.

Persian Gulf

Henna in the Persian Gulf is best known for its use of the empty space that is intentionally left to enhance the design of henna. Usually the hands and feet are not fully adorned with the dye.

Gulf designs are seen as minimal, yet bold. Space allows the designs to stand out and Gulf Henna is considered to be one of the most popular henna styles in the world.

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These designs consist mainly of leaves, veins and flowers, with unfilled shapes, only sketched.

In Saudi Arabia, one of the bride’s relatives paints the bride’s hands with henna, but tradition says that this relative must be happy in marriage, otherwise she will bring bad luck to the bride.

Tunisia and Morocco

In Tunisia, a traditional process begins eight days before the wedding ceremony, when a basket is delivered to the bride containing henna.

The mother of the groom is responsible for overseeing the process to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Modernity now sees the groom accompanying the bride in the ritual of the Henna evening. The majority of the henna painting is done on the body of the bride.

Source: Youtube

Henna celebrations can last for seven days. On the third day, the bride wears a traditional dress and has her hands and feet painted with henna. The groom has his pinky painted with henna on the sixth day.

In Morocco, henna is considered popular among both sexes and is known for its unisex designs.

The Moroccan style of henna includes geometric shapes and curves, traditional tribal patterns, diamond shapes and highlights.

About Glenn Gosselin

Glenn Gosselin

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