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Overseas Pakistan Matrimonial

Mehndi

Mehndi, the Henna ceremony, or the Rasm-e-henna ceremony, typically takes place one or two days prior to the main wedding day. The event is traditionally held separately for the bride and the groom. The henna is symbolically placed on the couple's hands. The groom's friends and family bring along sweets and henna for the bride, and the bride's family does the same for the groom. On the bride's ceremony, the groom normally does not participate and similarly, on the groom's event the bride stays at home. Female guests are sometimes offer mehndi at the host's discretion.

Traditionally, since there were separate functions for both the bride and the groom, the groom's function was called 'Tael' (oil) where female guests put some oil into the groom's hair. With the ceremony now held simultaneously for both the groom and the bride, the use of the term 'tael' has diminished greatly. In some cases, the entire ceremony is instead referred to as "Tael Mehndi" (Oil and Henna) ceremony.

The bride normally wears a green dress or yellows/orange for the Henna celebration and uses only light, or mostly, no make-up. The groom will typically wear a casual Shalwar Qameez. The bride and/or the groom are brought forward in the ceremony under a decorative dupatta by their close relatives. In the bridal ceremony, a certain number of married women who are closely related to the bride apply henna to her hands, and feed her sweets. This ritual is supposed to bring good luck and longevity to the bride's married life. Similarly, on the groom's side, oil is applied to his head and sweets are fed to the groom.

A song competition also occurs in the Rasme Henna or Mehndi celebrations between the bride and groom's side. Young women and men will sing teasing songs about the other side (where the bride's side pokes good natured fun at the groom's side and vice versa) and try to compete in this ritual sing song. Sometimes elaborate musical and acting performances are part of the Mehndi celebrations. Elaborate dance sequences and competitions between the bride and groom's families are also quite common these days.

Traditionally, the Mehendi was considered a women's event and men did not participate in it. The sing song etc. was left almost entirely to women. However, this has changed substantially in recent times with males featuring prominently in the Mehndi celebrations as well. A recent trend gaining popularity is to announce a colour theme for the mehendi whereby guests are supposed to dress up in a particular colour. Commonly used colours are bright reds, oranges and yellows.

Traditionally on the mendhi night, the girl is in a yellow outfit, tinged with green. Friends and sisters walk in with small candles placed in trays or clay pots . These are then laid out on the floor infront of where the girl will be seated and are decorated with gold tinsel or beading.

The girl is customary led to the stage, under the shade of a yellow/green scarf which is held up by 6 female relatives, cousins or sisters. She is usually without make up and/or cosmetics and jewelry a real plain Jane. This is purposely done making her appearance on the wedding day when adorned with jewelry, spectacular make up, henna-ed hands, arms and feet all the more breath-taking and beautiful.

Guests (usually only ladies both from the girls side and the grooms side) apply a dollop of henna on the girls hands (to prevent the hands from being stained a napkin or paan leaf is placed on the palm) and a tinge of oil dabbed into the hair. She is then fed some sweets and gifted money (which is to symbolize warding off the evil eye). The groom does not attend this ceremony as both bride and groom are not allowed to see one another until the wedding day (post nikkah).

The bride's sisters, sister-in-laws and/or cousins will tie a 'ghaani' on the bride which is a yellow flower on a piece of yellow string, this symbolizes their tie, love and bond with the bride. Sometimes the mother in law will also partake in tying the ghaani on the wrist of her daughter in law.

Another part in preparation for the henna night done by some is applying the uptan. Uptan is a paste made of turmeric, sandalwood and other various herbs and is applied on the arms and legs of the bride to be, by her mother, sisters, aunts and friends. This is to make her skin glow in preparation for the henna night and to ward off the evil eye. Some believe it to be good luck too. The bride is then washed down by 7 happily wedded women each pouring a bucket of water on the bride. This symbolizes luck and happiness in the wish that the fortune of these 7 wedded women, in terms of marital bliss, may rub off onto the bride to be. She is then left to wash up and the evening comes to an end.

Its generally a joyous occasion, with many colourful outfits, music, banter, dancing and giddiness. Bright colours are worn such as yellows, oranges and greens. However recently pastel shades such as baby pink, baby blue have also been worn. The bride's sisters and/or friends execute a number of practised dances for entertainment. This could also include the boys, who do their own dances or pair up with the girls and have a girls vs. boys ensemble

Mendhi Night (boy)

For the men who have a henna night, they are usually only subjected to the first portion of the events, such as being fed sweets, have the ghaani tied and oil in their hair, dollop of henna on their hands and gifting money.

With the groom to be there is room and opportunity to be mischievous and this is often took advantage of. Friends and cousins (male and female) of the groom will forcefully stuff large sweets in his mouth, or jokingly apply henna on his hair as opposed to his hands. It has also been known to naughtily pour the whole bowlful of oil in the groom's hair! This is all done in a lighthearted manner and designed to tease the groom.

The girl may have henna formally applied to her hands, arms, feet and lower legs (and/or upper, whatever tickles your fancy!) on the henna night whilst the dances/entertainment are taking place. These henna prints are usually of intricate patterns which contain flowers, swirls and paisley patterns. Superstition has it, the darker the henna the more loved the bride will be by her mother-in-law.

In addition to the henna patterning, the initials or name of the groom may be hidden in the design. This acts as an icebreaker on the wedding night where a game of him looking for his name on her palms ensues.

 
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