Guest contributor Rani Hayden – www.ranihayden.com
Show of hands of who has had their mendhi done before? Mendhi or Henna Parties are a part of the many festivities for South Asian weddings. Typically for the ladies side of the family (however that has since changed and the woman on the men’s side are now getting their ‘henna on’) it’s a great Indian tradition of painting your hands and having everyone and their dog asking if you have gotten married.
Don’t get me wrong, I love getting my mendhi done – for the first 2 days. But then it starts to where off and your hands look as if they have some sort of disease to them. Sadly if you are one of those brown girls that has a wedding every weekend, you will be attending weddings with faded henna – quite the ‘no-no’ for many in the community.
As fun as these events are, there are some common practices that I have found have become not so common. Here is a list of your top 5 things you should and shouldn’t do at a mendhi Party:
1.) THE BRIDE COMES FIRST! I started off simple. This is quite standard I would think all across the board. While everyone understands that the bride comes first, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen family members of the bride interject to ask questions about their mendhi. Sorry folks but let the mendhi artist and bride have their 2.5 hours in peace!
2.) YOU DON’T GET THE SAME TREATMENT AS THE BRIDE! Along the same lines as number 1 – just because you are out of commission for a little while doesn’t mean you get everything spoon fed to you as well. It’s the brides day – let her have her day – you however don’t have this day as well. That means a couple of things a.) Eat before you get your mendhi done. b.) don’t get both hands done at the same time. c.) grab your own lemon cotton swab and dab yourself princess!
3.) LET OTHERS HAVE A TURN BEFORE GETTING BOTH HANDS DONE! Let’s face it, every mendhi lady runs out sooner or later. Instead of being greedy, get your one hand done and if she has time afterwards, get the other done!
4.) LESS IS MORE! I am sure all you ladies are like me in the sense that when one of your friends gets married, they all want to get married. So in a wedding season you have numerous brides and I can’t count how many times upcoming brides will ask for trial runs at someone else’ wedding. WRONG – JUST WRONG!
5.) CLOSE FAMILY AFTER THE BRIDE! Let’s define close family for a minute here because I know that is a very blurred line within our community. Close family includes in order – mother and sisters (and direct sister – in-laws). Then you get into your aunts and their daughters – but first aunts – i.e. the brides mom’s sister and children. Also, on the list would be the out of towners. Then it’s a free for all. Know your place.
6.) BRING MONEY! This is definitely new to me, and I am guilty of not coming prepared. However our world is more and more budget conscience then it once was, and in an attempt to save money at these big weddings – sometimes the mendhi comes at a price. Typically $5 per hand or per side, so $10 should have you covered. If the event is paid for, please keep in mind that the bride does have to pay the same rate. So don’t go crazy and get both hands / both sides done.
7.) YOUR TIME WILL COME! Relax. I was at a wedding not too long ago, and sadly I was late to the mendhi party. I got off work late and communicated in advance my tardiness. I walked into the tent and said hello to the bride who was finished and sitting off to the side. I then went to say hello to my cousins and aunts who were getting their mendhi done as well. If looks could kill I would be 6 feet under the ground right now – for the looks that the ladies in the lineup for the mendhi were giving me were lethal. It’s a party – relax, have fun – it’s not ALL about the mendhi.
8.) Lastly – but not least – DON’T JUST GO TO THE MENDHI PARTY AND THE RECEPTION. I know those are considered the “fun parties” but if you were invited to the Menhdi party consider it an honor and attend the other events too. The Mayian the night before, the actual wedding, and then followed by the reception. Don’t pick and chose the events. Be there for the bride and attend all events even if you don’t want to. After all, it’s not about you.
This all may seem harsh, but I am sure I am not the only one that has experienced the above mentioned and many of you probably have much to add! If your one of the many that is guilty of the above – no problem. Just remember this list the next time you attend a party – and you will go far! Happy Henna Parties Ladies!