Mehendi, also known as Henna, is decoration on the hands, foot and nails by applying a paste made with leaves of Henna tree (Botanical name : Lawsonia inermis).
Though there are ready-made pastes available in the market, some of them are adulterated with chemicals like silver nitrate, carmine, orange dye, chromium etc. which will give more intense color but unsafe to use. our children prefer to make the paste from fresh leaves collected from the tree in our backyard and apply it themselves.
In India, beautifying the hands and foot with Mehendi are normally carried out for the girl to be married during wedding and is part of the bridal decoration.
Here is a step by step instructions on how to make the Mehendi paste from freshly collected Henna leaves and how to decorate your hands withe the paste.
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Step 1: Collecting the Henna Leaves and Making Paste
There is one medium sized Henna tree (Lawsonia inermis) in our backyard, which you can see in the first picture. We collected the fresh leaves and ground them to a fine paste in a mixer grinder. Adding a few drops of lime juice will enhance the color of mehendi, but it is not necessary.
Step 2: Making the Cone
The mehendi paste is applied by squeezing the paste uniformly through a paper cone made with a nonabsorbent paper.
You can make the cone with any non-absorbent paper like the ones used for gift wrapping. Here we made the cone with normal A4 paper and a plastic sheet.
1. Take an A4 paper and stick the plastic paper on it with a glue stick.
2. Trim the excess plastic sheet.
3. You can make two cones from this sheet. Cut this into half.
4. Fold one half into a cone and glue the joints with a glue stick. The other half can be used latter.
Step 3: Filling the Cone
1. Using a fork or spoon, fill the cone with the mehendi paste.
2. Press down the paste into the cone upto two-third full. Remove the excess paste.
3. Fold the top and close the cone. Now your cone is ready for applying.
The freshly ground paste is dark green in color and will turn into reddish brown in a few hours.
Step 4: Getting Ready to Decorate the Hand
1. Wash your hand clean and dry
2. Cut the end of the cone with a pair of scissors so that only a little amount of the paste can be squeezed out uniformly.
Step 5: Applying Mehendi
Here you can see the application of Mehendi paste on the hand by squeezing out the paste from the cone slowly and uniformly to form a beautiful pattern.
Ready-made templates and sketches are available in the market which can be used to roughly mark the pattern on your hand or foot before applying mehendi.
Step 6: Finished
This is the finished mehendi design. You have to keep your hand still so that the paste will dry and color the skin, which may take a minimum of two hours.
Some people wet the paste with lemon juice and wrap the design with tissue paper and keep it for about four to six hours, some times overnight, to get intense color.
Step 7: The Outcome
The dried out Mehendi paste is removed and washed from the hand after about two hours. The design looks very light, but will become darker in about a couple of days.
Step 8: Finally...
The design darkened after 24 hours by oxidation and will become more darker in a few more days. The design will last for about four to six weeks and can be redone with a different pattern.
Decorating your hands and foot with the application of home made Henna paste is safe and will not have any side effects.
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