Traditional Beauty Treatment
Henna or Maruthani as it is known in Tamil is derived from a plant. The leaves of the plant have been used in India traditionally during auspicious occasions. The leaves from the tree were plucked and ground into a thick paste, which was applied in geometric designs on the palm & sole, before retiring for the night & is allowed to dry overnight. The following morning when the dried portion is washed off, a red pigmentation is left behind on the applied area. This style was mostly prevalent in South India, where more often a circular patch is applied in the centre of the palm & a cap is formed over the fingers. This style of decoration is also followed by dancers.
In the North, the habit of creating exquisite & intricate designs on the palm as well as the forearm has been in practice. In this case a dry powder form of henna is used. Mehndi is so popular & auspicious in the North, that during weddings a special function is celebrated exclusively for applying henna to the bride.
The mehndi powder has to be made into a fine paste with a few drops of fresh lime juice. A cone or thin stick is used to apply the intricate designs. Syrup of fresh lime juice mixed with sugar is periodically applied in the semi dry stages, to prevent flaking. When the surface is wiped clean after 5-6 hours, a red pigmentation is left behind. Henna is a proven coolant for the system & is used for medicinal purposes too. It is also used to dye the hair.