Punjabi mehndi is the art of skin decoration by applying certain designs on the body using henna paste. These designs generally are not permanent tattoos but are temporary drawings on the skin done for special occasions such as weddings or religious celebrations. In Hindu culture, Punjabi is just one form of mehndi decoration. Mehndi designs feature a variety of styles, including Arabic, Indian and Rajasthani.
This type of body art is completed with the use of henna paste, which is obtained from the henna plant. The designs are applied on the skin using a paint brush or henna cone. After the design has been drawn, the area is wrapped in plastic, tissue or tape to seal in body heat and create an intense array of colors. Punjabi mehndi designs are most popular in traditional Hindu weddings and Hindu festivals such as the Teej, Diwali, Bhaidooj and Karva Chauth.
Mehndi tattoos have different meanings, and Punjabi mehndi designs can symbolize anything from fertility and good health to spiritual power and wisdom. Punjabi designs are popular throughout the Middle East and southern Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Bangladesh. These designs are an exquisite form of traditional body art that has remained popular throughout the ages.
The Punjabi mehndi style is the most popular mehndi design. These designs range from very simple and basic designs, such as a red dot on the back of the hand, to extremely complex and artistic designs. Complex designs can feature an embroidery of spectacular artwork covering the palms, hands, arms, legs and feet of the person receiving the design.
Traditionally, female relatives apply the design on the body of a bride. It is a meticulous task that can take hours to complete. After the design is applied, the bride has to wait for the henna paste to dry. As the henna paste dries, older women in the family often use that time to instruct the bride on the secrets of marriage.
This ancient form of body art is believed to have started thousands of years ago. Renditions of this body art have entered mainstream pop culture, especially in the United States. Many people have chosen to get permanent tattoos based on Punjabi mehndi-inspired designs. People who do not want to get actual tattoos can purchase pre-made mehndi patterns and henna paste in stores and can apply the designs on their bodies at their own leisure.