Fashion Friday – Henna Designs and Bridal Bangles

The Dowry BridesToday I have a very special Fashion Friday guest – Shobhan Bantwal who has just released THE DOWRY BRIDE, a wonderful contemporary story set in exotic India. It’s available this month from Kensington Books.

Here’s Shobhan to tell us about Henna Designs and Bridal Bangles:

When I realized my publisher was going to use my daughter’s wedding picture, in all her bridal finery, for the cover of my debut Indian novel, THE DOWRY BRIDE, I was beyond thrilled. It was an unexpected treat.

Contrary to popular belief, henna decorations — the traditional vines, flowers and paisleys worn by Indian brides on their hands and feet, are not tattoos, since they don’t involve needles and multi-colored dyes. And they are not permanent. Instead they are intricate designs drawn by a trained artist with a paste made of henna or mehndi leaves. They last no more than two or three weeks.

The decorating process involves hours of painstaking work. The bride needs to sit still and let the paste dry and stay on for several hours, so the color can seep into the skin.

When the caked-up mehndi is washed away, what remains is a lovely red-orange tint that is considered auspicious in the Hindu culture and some other cultures of the East. It blends beautifully with bridal saris, bangles, rings, and anklets, since these typically come in shades of red, orange, and gold.

In recent years, Henna has made quite a splash on the American fashion scene. Europeans and Americans are discovering the beauty of henna and some salons on the East and West Coasts are offering mehndi as one of their services.

What most Americans don’t know is that henna has therapeutic qualities. In hot climates, it cools and soothes the skin. It is a popular hair dye in scorching desert areas like the Middle East, where henna-dyed hair is cooling for the scalp and takes on a pretty color.

For an Indian or Muslim bride, who is expected to be a virgin, perhaps the old-fashioned wisdom in using henna (beyond its aesthetic value) is to keep a nervous bride cool and serene when approached by her enthusiastic groom on their wedding night. This is only my opinion of course….

But what is fascinating is the sari and jewelry that an Indian bride wears. Most Hindu brides wear red silk with gold or silver woven into the fabric and lots of 22 carat gold jewelry. With brides becoming more modern in their tastes, bridal fashions have changed significantly. Many young women wear sexy, backless blouses, and saris that ride low on the hips, leaving the entire midriff and the belly button bare. But no matter how much bridal fashions change, the traditional Indian sari and the intricate jewels and henna will probably continue to adorn a Hindu bride.

Thank you so much for sharing this fashion information with us, Shobhan! Be sure to visit Shobhan’s website for a chance to win a Dowry bag!

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21 thoughts on “Fashion Friday – Henna Designs and Bridal Bangles”

  1. Once again, thanks to all of you who commented on this guest blog. I’m so glad to hear that “henna rocks.” I’m hoping my next book will be given an equally interesting cover and will generate lots of positive comments like The Dowry Bride did.

    Thanks, Caridad, for posting this on your popular blog and giving me an opportunity to meet these wonderful people in cyberspace. They took the time to read my article and post comments. Many of them visited my website and entered my dowry drawing for Sept. I hope they’ll go back to my website and offer some feedback after they read the book.

    Looking forward to doing this again in the future.

    Warm Regards,

  2. Great blog post and fascinating subject! The book sounds really good too!

    I hope I am not too late! Henna Rocks

  3. Catching up on email and coming in a wee tad late to say Henna Rocks.

    That is a beautiful cover and that’s neat that you could use the wedding picture. Lots of interesting tidbits in this post.

  4. Henna Rocks!
    i think its a very good idea, especially for older teens or any1 who not sure about a perm tat, or teens, taht change from week to week

    of course i got 4 tats, i wished i knew of henna on 2 of them 🙂

  5. Henna Rocks Wow learned something new. I worked for an Indian man for 4 yrs when I was younger. Got to learn some things but that wasn’t one of them. That is a lovely picture.

  6. Thanks, you guys. It’s a pleasure to share some of the lesser known facts about my culture. In my book, The Dowry Bride, you’ll find lots more little tidbits about Indian and Hindu culture that you may find interesting. I’d like it if you write to me through my website and tell me what you think.

    Shobhan Bantwal

  7. Henna Rocks!!!!!!!!!!

    I recently encountered two young ladies
    with these absolutely gorgeous designs
    upon their hands. I had to stop my
    shopping (which is miraculous in itself!)
    to inquire about their hands. They
    explained that they were going to a very
    special event and the designs were a
    complement to their attire for the

    Patricia Cochran.

  8. Henna Rocks

    Hi Caridad! Glad to be back. 🙂

    Shobhan, I’m looking forward to reading THE DOWRY BRIDE. The cover is beautiful! Thank you for discussing “Henna” with us. I’ve always wanted my hands done.

  9. Henna Rocks!
    What a great post. I think it is wonderful that your publisher used your daughter’s photo as your book cover.
    I enjoyed reading the interesting information that you shared. I have learned alot.

  10. Henna Rocks!

    Hi Shobhan, that is so cool that your publisher used your daughter’s wedding photo for your cover! Thank you for sharing about the Henna. It was all very interesting!

    Have a great day!

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