Henna and Ritual Practice
By: Krysteen Lomonaco ~
Mehndi, the art of applying decorative patterns to someone's skin, is no doubt, a beautiful practice. Originating cultures use Mehndi as a part of religious ceremonies, and other ritual practices such as bridal parties and pregnancies. Apart from Mehndi being an aspect of the ritual, the ingredients themselves are a significant part of the it too.
The sifted henna powder is a natural healing agent. The essential oils that are added to the powder are also a healing agent and are a natural skin protectant. The citrus liquids added to the paste symbolize a creative and bright energy. The aroma that comes from these ingredients mixed lifts the spirit and symbolize a new beginning.
There are other ingredients that can be added to enhance a specific focus to your ritual practice. Pomegranate juice can be added to your mixture to symbolize fertility and will physically add a reddish color to your stain. Cinnamon oil symbolizes prosperity and will also enhance the staining power of your mixture. Rose water is used to attract love to the person who is receiving mehndi and also emits a romantic aroma.
The ritual for mehndi is a two-step process. It involves the mixing of the paste itself, thinking about the intention and need of the ritual. While your mixture is setting overnight you will need to mentally prepare yourself for your new beginning and clear your mind of all negativity. The next day you will need to clear your physical space and cleanse the energy with aromas and reflection. Preparing your mind and body also includes meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and relaxing your body. The most important thing to remember during the ritual is the goal of the ritual itself. This will keep your focus and help release that goal and energy into your life.
The design itself can carry symbols of your ritual, but as long as the symbols are meaningful to YOU, the design really doesn't matter. Some examples of design elements to enhance your ritual are: Zodiac signs, Hindu symbols, Astrological symbols, planetary seals, and sacred geometry (mandalas)
After you apply your design you will be doing a bit of waiting. This is a great time to reflect, write in a journal, meditate and light some candles or incense. The process of your mehndi drying and staining is also a process of your ritual intention entering your mind and body; imagine a positive energy flowing through your design and into your body. As that energy moves through your body and into your mind, release that energy into the universe!
The ritual experience as a whole should be individual to you, so don't be afraid to try something different based on your research. You can also research ancient rituals and apply them to your ritual experience as well.