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What Are Punjabi Mehndi?

K. Reynolds
K. Reynolds

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.

Punjabi mehndi involves decorating the skin with temporary tattoos made from henna paste.
Punjabi mehndi involves decorating the skin with temporary tattoos made from henna paste.

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.

Punjabi designs are popular throughout the Middle East.
Punjabi designs are popular throughout the Middle East.

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.

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Discussion Comments


@feruze-- Don't put any plastic over the mehndi until it is completely dry. I recommend applying the mehndi at evening at the earliest so that it dries by the time you go to bed. And you can cover it with a plastic bag and sleep that way.

What I do after the mehndi dries is to apply a lemon sugar mixture on it. Just squeeze a little bit of lemon juice and add sugar in it. Apply this with a cotton ball after the mehndi has dried and repeat as it keeps drying. This makes the mehndi come out stronger and it won't dry and flake off your skin.

Put a plastic bag over each of your hands and sleep without touching anything as much as possible. In the morning, remove the bag and scrape off or wash off the mehndi. Follow with an application of oil on your hands- something like olive oil or almond oil. This will make the mehndi last even longer and the color will be a beautiful dark red.

Good luck!


@feruze-- Punjab is a state in Northern India. Indians who live in Punjab are called Punjabi and anything related to this regional culture is also referred to as Punjabi. So Punjabi mehndi is the type of mehndi designs that Punjabis use.

In fact, "Mehndi Wale Hath" is a Punjabi movie that was released back in 2006. It means "Hand with Mehndi."

My family is Punjabi and Punjabi mehndi is my favorite type of mehndi. I love how flexible it is. It can be very floral and sparse or it can be very dense with geometric patterns. I think Punjabi is between Mumbai mehndi and Marwari mehndi. Mumbai mehndi is more floral and Marwari more dense and geometric. Punjabi mehndi can be both.

A mehndi artist who learns the Punjabi style can do any kind of mehndi design in my view.


I bought a punjabi mehndi set online and I plan on having a little mehndi party with my girlfriends this weekend. It's my best friend's birthday and it's going to be a surprise for her. She loves Indian and South Asian culture so I thought that this would be a great idea.

The set came with directions and a booklet of different Punjabi mehndi designs but I want to know if there are any tips or secrets I should know about mehndi application.

The article mentioned covering the mehndi with plastic. But how does the mehndi dry when it's in plastic? Should I use plastic wrap?

By the way, what does Punjabi mean? I feel silly talking about Punjabi mehndi and not knowing what Punjabi is! I have heard of Punjabi dance music before. So I think it's a cultural trend but I'm not sure.

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