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Mendhi Party Etiquette

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Guest contributor Rani Hayden – www.ranihayden.com

Show of hands , who has had their mendhi done before? Mendhi Parties are a part of the many festivities for South Asian weddings. Typically for the ladies side of the family, (however, that has since changed and the woman on the men’s side are now getting their ‘henna on’ as well) it’s a great Indian tradition of painting your hands and having everyone and their dog ask if you have gotten married.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting my mendhi done – for the first two days. Then it starts to wear off and your hands look as if they have some sort of disease. Sadly, if you are one of those brown girls that has a wedding every weekend, you will be attending weddings with faded henna – quite the ‘no-no’ for many in the community.

As fun as these events are, there are some common practices that I have found that aren’t in your best interest. Here is a list of your top five things you should and shouldn’t do at a Mendhi Party:

1.) THE BRIDE COMES FIRST! This is quite standard, I would think, all across the board. While everyone understands that the bride comes first, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen family members of the bride interject to ask questions about their own mendhi. Sorry folks, but let the mendhi artist and bride have their 2.5 hours in peace!

2.) YOU DON’T GET THE SAME TREATMENT AS THE BRIDE! Along the same lines as number one – just because you are out of commission for a little while doesn’t mean you get everything spoon fed to you as well. It’s the brides day – let her have her day – you, however, don’t get to have her day. That means a couple of things a.) Eat before you get your mendhi done. b.) don’t get both hands done at the same time. c.) grab your own lemon-sugar cotton swab and dab yourself princess!

3.) LET OTHERS HAVE A TURN BEFORE GETTING BOTH HANDS DONE! Let’s face it, every mendhi lady runs out sooner or later. Instead of being greedy, get your one hand done and if she has time afterwards, get the other done!

4.) LESS IS MORE! I am sure all you ladies are like me in the sense that when one of your friends gets married, they all end up getting married. So during a wedding season of numerous brides, and I can’t count how many times this happens, upcoming brides will ask for trial runs at someone else’ wedding. WRONG – JUST WRONG!

5.) CLOSE FAMILY AFTER THE BRIDE! Let’s define close family for a minute here because I know that is a very blurred line within our community. Close family includes in order – mother and sisters (and direct sister-in-laws). Then you get into your aunts and their daughters – but first aunts – i.e. the brides mom’s sister and children. Also, on the list would be the out of town-ers. Then it’s a free for all. Know where you fit in.

6.) BRING MONEY! This is definitely new to me, and I am guilty of not coming prepared. However, our world is becoming more and more budget conscience then it once was. In an attempt to save money at these big weddings – sometimes the mendhi comes at a price. Typically $5 per hand or per side, so $10 should have you covered. If the event is paid for, please keep in mind that the bride does have to pay the same rate. So be considerate.

7.) YOUR TIME WILL COME! Relax. I was at a wedding not too long ago, and sadly I was late to the mendhi party. I got off work late and communicated in advance my tardiness. I walked into the tent and said hello to the bride who was finished and sitting off to the side. I then went to say hello to my cousins and aunts who were getting their mendhi done as well. If looks could kill I would be six feet under the ground right now – for the looks that the ladies in the lineup for the mendhi gave me were lethal. It’s a party – relax, have fun – it’s not ALL about the mendhi.

8.) Lastly – but not least – DON’T JUST GO TO THE MENDHI PARTY AND THE RECEPTION. I know those are considered the “fun parties” but if you were invited to the mendhi party, consider it an honor and attend the other events too. The Mayian the night before the wedding, the actual wedding, and then followed by the reception. Don’t pick and chose which events you want to attend. Be there for the bride and attend all events even if you don’t want to. After all, it’s not about you.

This all may seem harsh, but I am sure I am not the only one that has experienced the above mentioned and many of you probably have much to add! If your one of the many that is guilty of the above – no problem. Just remember this list the next time you attend a party – and you will go far! Happy Henna Parties Ladies!