I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the mendhi night for one of the sweetest people I know in preparation for her wedding. And she encouraged me to bring my camera along. For those unfamiliar, mendhi is a ceremonial art originally from India where hands and feet are decorated with intricate designs in henna.
It was such a fantastic experience. I'd had henna on my hands before but this was one hundred thousand times more special (plus this time I actually let it dry all the way). There was so much color, food, music - not to mention a lot of women talking with at least one hand held away from their bodies while the henna dried. I was so mesmerized watching the women drawing the designs that I almost didn't take any photos. No doubt I would have kicked myself later if I'd taken none. The henna can last 1 - 3 weeks, so a photo is the only way to really preserve it long-term.
The bride-to-be sat for around three and a half hours (with her arms in the air) while the beautiful lines were drawn on her. And I'm pretty sure she was smiling the whole time.
The next night was the Garba (more food, more music, with traditional Indian dances). I managed not to bring a camera to that one. Normally that would make me feel like I was missing an appendage, but there was dancing to be done, people. Dancing. You cannot take photos and participate in a dandiya raas at the same time. You would probably hurt yourself.
©2011 Kristin Serna This post and these photos should not be republished without my permission.