Wordless Wednesday-Bridal Mendhi in India

Okay, so not so Wordless–I can’t help but write about these pictures.

The following pictures were taken on Dec 26, 2006, the day before our wedding reception in Bombay, India.

Ravi and I were married in July 2006 in Boston in a small (by Indian standards–82/85 people) ceremony.  Some close family traveled from India to be there, but it made sense to do a second reception in India later in the year…and gave me an excuse to come to India (and Asia) for the first time.  I had done subtle mendhi for the US wedding, but I didn’t want it to overwhelm my dress.  However, for the India reception, I requested full bridal mendhi…which my mother in law and her sister arranged for us.  My mother in law, my college roommate Love, and our friend Michelle got mendhi (am I forgetting anyone?  Diana? Alexis?) and I had a small mendhi party at the hotel.

photo credit–Love

As the bride, I got the most intricate mendhi done.  So intricate that even with two women working, I sat for a total for four hours for them to complete it (plus another several hours of drying time).

Photo credit-Love


Once the mendhi was applied, I had intricate designs going up my arms and covering my feet

tops of my hands (photo credit-Love)

bottom side of my hands/arms (photo credit: Love)

looking down at my feet and toes (photo credit: Love)

side view of my feet (photo credit: Love)

The hardest part about getting mendhi is how careful you have to be while it’s setting.  With this sort of intricate mendhi, I couldn’t put my arms down.  I had to keep my fingers slightly spread.  And I had to stay very still.  In the interest of full disclosure, I spent the hours of mendhi drying in the hotel room watching dvd’s of season one of Alias while Ravi manned the remote and fed me/ held cups of water for me to drink from.

BUT…after several hours, you get to do one of the most satisfying and fun things.  To remove the now dry mendhi paste, you get to rub your hands together, creating a rain of mendhi dust into your sink.  I can’t say what about that makes it fun, except to insist that it is vastly satisfying, especially when you get to see the stain on your skin beneath.

Love’s Mendhi, just after removing the dried paste (photo credit–Love or possibly Curt)

When you first remove the paste, the stain is bright orange, which is why mendhi parties are 1-2 days before the event.  By the next day, however, the stain darkens to brown.

My palm-taken during the reception (photo credit-official photographer of the reception)

A fun fact is that in traditional bridal mendhi, the artist hides the grooms initials or name somewhere in the mendhi design “for the groom to find on the wedding night.”

Can you find “Ravi” in the picture above? (photo credit-Curt)

Here are a few shots of us at the reception…although the reception itself is a story for another day.

Ravi and I (official photo)

Love (photo credit-Curt)

Michelle (official photo)

Love, Curt and I (official pic)

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4 Responses to Wordless Wednesday-Bridal Mendhi in India

  1. bookjunkie says:

    Crystal, you look gorgeous in that red sari, especially the way it’s tied with the border in the front. Love how your hair was done too.

    Thanks for sharing the mendhi photos and process. Even though I’m Indian I’ve never had it done before…I mean this intricate version. I love how it gets brown at the end. But I somehow love when they first apply it and it’s black and so intricate like a painting. I don’t think I would be patient enough to sit for that long…I tend to be super fidgetty.

    • Crystal says:

      I found it was a lot easier to get the far less intricate version I had done for my wedding. Because it wasn’t as intricate or encompassing, it was far less of a hassle. But it was certainly worth it to go all out just once.

      Thanks for the compliment. I’m considering donating my white American wedding dress to charity the next time I’m home, but I can’t imagine giving up the red dress, which I actually can wear again, if I’m invited to an Indian wedding (or at least I think there’s no prohibition on a guest wearing red…do you know?).

  2. MB says:

    The mendhi looks AAMMAAAZZIINNNNGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m most impressed that the mendhi artists drew all these intricate patterns and flourishes free-hand! Super beautiful.


    • Crystal says:

      Yeah, I have zero visual art skills and I couldn’t believe how they just did it…and without mistakes–in mendhi there’s very little time to fix an error. Blew me away.

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