Indian Culture: Importance of Mehndi

Mehndi holds a lot of cultural significance in Indian traditions. Be it weddings, Karva Chauth or other occasions, mehndi plays an important role in all the ceremonies and festivals of India. In today’s era of modernization, the new styles and designs of mehndi are coming up, adding glamour and fun to it.

Importance of Mehndi in Indian Culture

Importance of Mehndi in Indian Culture

Mehndi Ceremony is among the pre wedding rituals in Indian weddings performed a day prior to the marriage. Just as Haldi ceremony symbolizes cleanliness, mehndi signifies beautification. Mehndi-Ki-Raat is usually a private affair with close relatives, friends and family members, celebrated amidst lot of dancing and feasting. This ritual is often combined with Sangeet ceremony and so is primarily a women’s function. The atmosphere is imbued with dholak beats and singing of traditional songs while mehndi is applied on bride’s hands and legs by mehndi experts. The bride’s mehndi interweaves the name of her would be husband and he is expected to find his name in the pattern. The female relatives of the family also apply mehndi on their palms to take part in the celebrations. This ceremony is performed by families of both the Indian bride and the Indian groom.

Even the color of mehndi is given high importance in Indian culture as the darkness of the color signifies the degree of husband’s and mother-in-law’s love. It depicts love and affection between the couple as it is believed that the longer it retains, the more auspicious it is. The bride is traditionally not allowed to work in her husband’s home until her mehndi’s color fades away completely.

Mehndi is applied on all the important occasions, festivals and vrats(fasts) in Hindu culture. It is important in festivals such as Karwa Chauth, Rakhi, Diwali etc. It is also considered as a shagun mostly denoted by the pattern of large dot in the centre of the hand with four smaller dots at the sides.

In order to make this conventional trend of henna application more exciting, fashionable and fun filled, there is a vast variety of mehndi designs available today. Arabic Mehndi, Rajasthani Mehndi, Crystal Mehndi, Tattoo Mehndi, etc along with the traditional Indian Mehndi are among the most popular styles of mehndi currently. Mehndi designs majorly consist of floral patterns, religious symbols, etc. while adding beauty and uniqueness to each design applied.

Henna or Mehndi is also known worldwide for its medicinal properties. It was, in fact, used as a cosmetic in earlier times due to its therapeutic features. Mehndi is widely adopted around the world as a conditioner and dye for hair by both men and women. It is a natural dye that renders a beautiful color on hair and creates a lustrous look. Also, mehndi is popular for its cooling effects, thus, used in hot climates in India and other countries. It can also help in lowering body temperature and soothe headaches, fevers, burning feet and even hysteria or a violent temper. It can increase the luster of nails, is effective in muscular rigidity and even in Jaundice.

Henna is in vogue these days with much experimentation happening on ways of its application. It is now prominently used, especially in the West, to make tattoos on different parts of the body. Tattoos are made on arms, wrists, around the navel, the shoulder or the back. Henna is now being used for body art as well.

Indian Culture: Customs and Traditions of India

Culture is a term that defines the growth and development of a human being by the influence of the social and political situation. Indian culture is a blend of various cultures across the world, at different points in history and also its own rich traditions. Though development and modernity has set in. the people of India remain rooted in their strong and rich heritage.

Indian Culture

Indian Culture

As other countries have their own culture as even india has its own culture with indian cutstoms and traditions.While it is considered good manners to leave a little bit of your drink in certain regions of the world, in others you could end up offending the host with such a gesture.The culture of India is inherent from its rich and diverse migrations and invasions from over 5000 year old history.Indian traditions and rituals It has an immense physical, religious, racial and linguistic variety. Indian cultureis defined by the ideas, thoughts and philosophies prevalent in the country and its people.

The uniqueness of Indian culture lies in its strong social system and family values. The elders are considered the driving force and so are respected and loved. The guests are considered as gods and are treated with respect and love, even if by foregoing some of the personal pleasures. Indians are always ready to help one another in times of need. The philosophy of distributing joy and sharing sorrows is also an important part of Indian culture. Such unity in diversity can be seen here which teaches tolerance and respect for others.

The mildness and humaneness of Indian culture can be seen in all aspect of life. India has people from all religions and walks of life living together in harmony. India being the birth place of many religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, there is freedom to worship and practice any religion throughout the country. In times of calamity as well as celebrations, all religions come together and share the feelings of one another.

Language

India has 28 states and seven territories, and each has at least one official language. While the national languages are Hindi and English, there are about 22 official languages and nearly 400 living languages spoken in various parts of the country. Most of the languages of India belong to two families, Aryan and Dravidian.

Religion

India is identified as the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism. A huge majority — 84 percent — of the population identifies as Hindu. There are many variations of Hinduism, and four predominant sects — Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakteya and Smarta.

About 13 percent of Indians are Muslim, making it one of the largest Islamic nations in the world. Christians and Sikhs make up a small percentage of the population, and there are even fewer Buddhists and Jains.

Food

Indian cuisine boasts Arab, Turkish and European influences. It is known for its large assortment of dishes and its liberal use of herbs and spices. Cooking styles vary from region to region.

Wheat, Basmati rice and pulses with chana (Bengal gram) are important staples of the Indian diet. The food is rich with curries and spices, including ginger, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, dried hot peppers, and cinnamon, among others. Chutneys — thick condiments and spreads made from assorted fruits and vegetables such as tamarind and tomatoes and mint, cilantro and other herbs — are used generously in Indian cooking.

Architecture

The most well-known example of Indian architecture is the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to honor his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. India also has many ancient temples.

Arts

India is well known for its film industry, which is based in Mumbai and is often referred to as Bollywood. The country began as a major producer of movies in the 1930s. Today the films are known for their elaborate singing and dancing and Bollywood produces more films per year than Hollywood.

Indian dance has a tradition of more than 2,000 years. The major classical dance traditions — Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Kathakali — draw on themes from mythology and literature and have rigid presentation rules.

Clothing

Indian clothing is closely identified with the colorful silk saris worn by many of the country’s women. The traditional clothing for men is the dhoti, an unstitched piece of cloth about 5 yards long that is tied around the waist and legs. Men also wear a kurta, a loose shirt that is worn about knee-length. For special occasions, men wear a sherwani, which is a long coat that is buttoned up to the collar and down to the knees.

Customs and celebrations

The country celebrates Republic Day (Jan. 26), Independence Day (Aug. 15) and Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (Oct. 2). There are also a number of Hindu festival that are celebrated, including Diwali, a five-day festival known as the festival of lights and marks a time of home-based family celebrations.