What is Henna and what happens at Henna Night?

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Henna body tattooing is a long-standing tradition dating back 6000 years, when central-Turkish women began painting their hands in homage to the Mother Goddess.

The practice spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean, where the henna shrub grows wild. Today, Emirati women continue the tradition by decorating their hands, nails and feet for special events, particularly weddings.

A few nights before the nuptials, brides-to-be are honored with laylat al-henna (henna night). This is a women-only affair, part of a week of festivities leading up to the big day. The bride is depilated, anointed head-to-toe with perfumes and oils, and shampooed with henna, jasmine or perfume. Her hands, wrists, ankles and feet are then tattooed with intricate floral designs, which typically last around six weeks.

Lore has it that the duration of the tattoos is an indication to the mother-in-law of what kind of wife the bride will become. If she’s a hard worker – and thus a more desirable daughter-in-law – the henna will penetrate deeper and remain longer.


What is Henna and what happens at Henna Night?

Text Source: Dubai & Abu Dhabi 7 by Lonely Planet
Photo Credit: hennaby_preet