Sunday, August 24, 2008

Magnificent Mehndi

Two Fridays ago I went to S' mehndi party. Our families have been friends forever, close enough that I call her parents uncle and auntie to this day. I can't remember a time that I didn't know S; she was always like a little sister to me in my mind. It's hard to believe that "lil sis" is all grown up now: beautiful, confident and on the verge of becoming a wife.

The party was held at her aunt's house in the OC, which was decorated with traditionally styled flower garlands and Indian textiles.

Mehndi is henna paste applied in decorative patterns, usually on the hands and feet. It is commonly used in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa as a form of decoration prior to special occasions such as weddings or festivals. When used for wedding related celebrations, the bride (or bride-to-be) will always have the most elaborate designs. Since the henna paste requires several hours to dry and set, S had her mehndi done the day prior. Traditionally the groom's name is hidden within the pattern.Typically, mehndi parties are a ladies' event. In this case, the men stuck around for the duration, but the ladies dominated nonetheless. Before we had our mehndi done, we all retreated to the yard for a number of photos in our colorful outfits.
And here is the point I run out of pictures because my camera battery died. So sad. It was a truly a lovely evening. S had hired two mehndi artists to come to the house and do designs for anyone who wanted them. The artists worked very quickly and gave all of us unique designs. Like most Indian gatherings, there was a huge array of tasty food including samosas, pakoras, appams, lamb kebobs, chicken tikka masala, naan and gulab jamun. Like most good Indian guests, I took some home with me at the end of the night. Ostensibly it was for Eddie, but let's get real. You all know I stored away all that grub for myself. ;-) There was also a beautiful cake decorated with mehndi patterns. But what I loved most about the evening was that it was the first old-school Indian get together that I had been to since moving to SoCal. Growing up, these get togethers were a routine part of my weekends. While the parents did their thing, the kids would hang out, play games or watch tv in the back rooms. Even though all of us kids are now adults and scattered throughout the state, there is still a bond amongst us all. In addition to being the first Indian get together I've been to down here, it was the first one that I went to entirely on my own, without my parents present. It made me feel a bit strange and melancholy. On the one hand it was one of those moments that made me feel like a true grown-up. But on the other hand it made me think of what things might be like in the inevitable future, where I'd have no choice but to go to these types of get togethers on my own.

Since my battery died, I couldn't get a picture of what the henna paste looked like after it was applied. But here is a pic of the finished result the next day, including my little shout-out to Eddie.


WeezerMonkey said...

Ooh. I've always wanted mehndi!

Dunc said...

Those are beautiful - I'm jealous, someone throw me a mehndi party!

JD 2 B said...

So much fun! I still regret missing out on having a mehndi party :-(