ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Create Temporary Indian Body Art With These Beautiful Henna Designs

Updated on July 3, 2011

1997 Vanity Fair Cover Featured Liv Tyler Wearing Henna


Mehndi Design


Body Art

Body Art often conjures up images of tattoos painfully etched into the skin permanently. Piercings to the parts of the body are also a form of body art. These are becoming increasingly common all over the world with many more tattoo studios opening up and people looking upon it as a way of expression. Celebrities show off their tattoos in public and some love etching their boyfriend's / girlfriend's name on their hand or wherever they choose, and love to show it off. Of course, some are a little over-tattooed,giving themselves the look of an animal they particularly like, such as a tiger or a snake. These are accessorized with some piercings to accentuate the look. Some get their tattoos removed when a boyfriend is changed, and a newer name is then etched to profess their current love. Some build upon their original tattoos or add newer ones.

Indian Body Art

There is a form of tattoo used extensively in Indian households during occasions. Women and men are known to use mehndi or henna as it is called to apply beautiful, intricate designs on the hands and feet for festive occasions such as a wedding, festivals, or awaiting the birth of a baby. These tattoos are temporary. Depending on the type of mehndi used, the design will disappear over 3 days to about a fortnight or the really long lasting variety remains for about a month. Ceremonies are held for the application of mehndi with women dressing up and having a fun time with some dancing and singing amidst dolaks and fragrant flowers and rangolis and festive lamps lit for the occasion. Weddings are usually preceded by a mehndi ceremony with the bride being beautified with intricate designs on her hands, up to the elbows on both sides and the feet as well. this may take about 3-4 hours while the bride has to sit patiently watching the designs come alive and all around marvelling the beauty of it and the dexterity with which the mehndiwalli applies. Usually 2 or 3 mehndiwallis will attend to her designs. The rest of the women and children will also await their turn at having mehndi applied on their hands, feet, or neck depending on what they are going to dress up in for the wedding. For example, if a lay wishes to wear a deep necked choli (blouse) with their saree or ghagra. If you are wearing an off shoulder dress wear a designer mehndi on the exposed shoulder. If you are wearing a backless choli, decorate with a revealing earth red tattoo, with a design that matches your saree design and perhaps can be coloured to match as well. Glitter can be applied to give a festive touch! If you are more daring, you could decorate around the navel with intricate henna design and show it off while wearing a saree or a ghagra that is anyway worn below the navel.

During the wedding season, mehndiwallis are in hot demand, depending on the intricacy of the designs and the finesse with which she applies. They have to be booked much in advance like everything else for the wedding.

Bride Gets Mehndi Applied

What Is Henna/Mehndi?

Henna or mehndi is a greenish powder made from dried leaves of the henna plant that grows as a bush. This has conditioning properties for the hair and gives a shine and lustre and a deep red rich colour. It is used extensively as a colouring agent for hair. Depending on the extent of grey on your hair, the colour also varies. For instance, a totally grey haired person, will get a deep orange when henna is applied and left for a couple of hours.

This same dried leaf powder is also used to make a paste and filled into a cone much like the icing cone to decorate a cake. Similar cuts are made at the ends to apply the intricate designs on one's hands or feet using readymade stencils or are hand drawn to accommodate the size of the hand, the fingers, the wrists to bring out the beauty of the hand with the intricacy of design.

Indian Women wearing Bindi and Vermilon

Traditional Vermilon
Traditional Vermilon
Sticker Bindi
Sticker Bindi
Decorative Sticker bindi
Decorative Sticker bindi

Buy Your Henna For Tattoo or Hair Condiioning

Did You Know

Naomi Campbell showed off her henna designs while on the catwalk.

Madonna showed off hers while making the videos of Ray Of Light.

Liv Tyler showed off on the cover of Vanity Fair.

The Bindi or Bottu

The forehead is adorned with a bindi or bottu which is a dot or a larger smear of vermilion, or/and sandal paste. Sometimes, even turmeric is used in addition to kumkum. Vermilion or kumkum is sacred to the Hindus and this is seen as a must for all married women and girls. Widows are not allowed to apply this on their forehead and is a sign of widowhood. Married Hindu women, particularly in North India also apply sindoor or vermilion on the parting of the hair in the centre of the forehead in addition to the one in the centre. New brides also are expected to wear this in addition to covering their heads with the pallu , which is the saree end covered with rich designs.

Not just women, but also men are applied this vermilon while performing pujas in the home or temple or any Hindu rituals being performed. Earlier, this bottu was seen as a sign of religious sentiment and men who applied his regularly meant that they performed puja before leaving their home every morning to work. It also meant that he was a Brahmin ( a high caste Hindu) and therefore revered. Iyengars and Iyers of South India wear a large single line in the centre of their forehead, particularly the men. They are seen to be great scholars and educators. Some men and women still wear an additional large U in white, with the red line in the centre. This marks them to be traditional and highly religious. They also wear their saree in a particular style which is traditionally 9 yards in length compared to the regular 6 yards that is generally in vogue. The men also wear traditional outfits. Pujaris or brahmin priests in the temples also sport this religious mark on their forehead.

Today, women prefer to wear decorative bindis which are either drawn on the forehead centre with a red or black bindi pencil or are part of a sticker bindi pack. Yes, sticker bindis are popular with younger fashion conscious women. And also widows, who are given this privilege by their own children who have always seen their mothers with the bindi. But, they do not use the regular kumkum which is used for pujas. You see, years of applying bindi causes the skin behind to be a lot more lighter than the rest of the face and so, when you give up wearing it altogether, it shows the discolouration which is not very pretty. This is also the reason why the fashionable Indian woman prefers to wear a sticker bindi in different colours to match her Indian outfits such as Salwar Kameez, Saree, Ghagra Choli, and discards this bindi when she wears Western outfits. Truly liberated is the modern Indian woman irrespective of age. Earlier, she would be despised for not wearing a bindi as soon as she woke up in the morning and had a bath and performed the daily puja ritual and decorated her front courtyard with rangoli. Only, then, she was expected to go wake up her husband and children and prepare their breakfast while they got ready for the day.

There is another type of bindi that is applied to a newborn child, a pretty child or a pretty damsel or a bridegroom, a small black one supposedly to ward off the evil eye.  Usually, some kajal or the traditional eyemakeup with soot made by burning a particular flower is taken with a finger and smeared on the side of the face somewhere visible, usually near the chin or above it. Sometimes, it is smeared on the side of the forehead.

Step By Step Application Of Henna


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)