The Blessings of a Henna Party
by Weam Namou
My husband’s niece had her henna party last weekend and it was fun and meaningful. For me, henna parties have become much more exciting to attend than weddings. Aside from the fact that they are filled with so much tradition, in our Chaldean community henna parties are much more intimate (with about 200 guests) whereas the weddings are, in my opinion, a bit overcrowded (at 500 guests and up).
Despite the small number of guests (at 200), one of the most important pre-weddings ceremonies in Arab and Hindu weddings is the Henna Party. A Henna Party represents the bond of matrimony and signifies the love and affection between the couple and their families. It is believed that henna gives blessings, luck, and joy.
The ceremony is a colorful, musical and lively event. The women dress in extravagant, heavily embroidered gallabiyas and the men wear a dishdasha and a 3-piece head cover. Large trays of fruits and nuts, sweets, and chocolate are carried by the women as they lead the future groom to his future bride.
The bride and other females get decorative henna designs on their hands. According to tradition, the darkness of the henna color on the bride’s hands represents the deep love between would-be-couples. Another tradition says that the bride is not allowed to work in her marital house until the time her henna fades away. Then it is work nonstop (no tradition says that, but any wife or mother understands what I’m talking about). Any wife or mother also knows that it’s all worth it, and the henna and other pre-wedding celebrations are beautiful steps that walk us into our new world with enough blessings to last us, and our children, a lifetime.