Out of all the different and the latest styles of Mehandi, Marwari mehndi stands out as the most intricate, elegant and the best mehandi design. And why not?? After all, Marwar carries the tradition and the legacy of Mehandi right from early days although the credit of bringing Mehandi to India goes to the Mughals who made it popular in India in the early twelfth century. Subsequently, it became a luxury of the rich. And the Rajputana queens started using it extensively by the fourteenth century as until then mehandi was something that only the rich could afford. As Mehandi grew in popularity in India, so it did in other countries like Persia, Arabia and as a consequence of that, the art and Mehandi designs also evolved and became synonymous with their geographic locations. The art of Mehandi, although very popular in Asia and considered pious for auspicious occasions, religious ceremonies etc, it is still considered as novel in the West with most of the Westerners looking at it as ‘temporary tattoos’.
Marwar-The Jewel of Rajasthan
Marwar is a small region as a part of the state of Rajasthan as we know now. The name of the region is derived from ‘Maruwat’ which is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘the region of desert’. The Marwar region is southwest of Rajashtan and a part of it extends to the Thar desert. The region includes the states of Jodhpur, Barmer, Nagaur, Pali, Jalore and Lakshman Nagar. People of this region refer to themselves as ‘Marwaris’ and professionally, they have been merchants throughout the history of the region. Therefore, the clan while originally belonging to this particular region of Rajasthan, it is now spread far and wide and have their communities in various states of India. Owing by the nature of their profession, their marriages are bound to be opulent and extravagant.
Marwari’s lavish wedding ceremonies
Marwari marriages are traditionally very elaborate with a whole lot of pre and post marriage rituals. A marwari wedding is always a grand affair and always done at a large scale with lot of importance given to all customs and traditions. Pre marriage rituals include engagement ceremony followed by Ganapati Sthapna and Griha Shanti ceremonies. After this is the Pithi Dastoor – this is the ceremony that includes the application of turmeric paste for the bride and the groom. After this is the Mahira Dastoor ceremony which includes distribution of gifts to all family members followed by the Janev ceremony for the groom and then the Palla Dastoor ceremony which includes worship of Goddess Gauri by the bride. Mehandi ceremony also forms an important part of the wedding celebrations wherein the bride is applied the most intricate and detailed mehandi while the relatives and guests go in for simple mehandi patterns. Mehandi has a prime importance in any wedding as it is considered to be one of the sixteen adornments of the bride and the harbinger for good luck, prosperity and bliss for a happy married life. The bride adorns her hands and feet with the best mehandi designs and this is the only time in the life of a woman wherein she wears mehandi on her feet as she takes first steps towards a new life.
Marwari mehandi designs are now popular not only in Marwari weddings but most brides like to go in for Marwari mehandi on their wedding day simply because of the aesthetic value that these designs carry. Let us take a look at some designs of mehandi which are particularly Marwari in nature:
1. Traditional Marwari Mehandi
This pattern is a typical Marwari design which includes the usage of symbols of good luck like the peacock,ambis, flowers, lines are curves. This pattern has a peacock adorning the wrist followed by fillings made in mesh and dots to fill up the palm of the hand. Each of the fingers has a pattern of ambis and articulately done fillings to accentuate the look of the entire pattern. While this particular hand does not have the finger tips filled with mehandi, it is not mandatory for all patterns to be thus and also largely depends on the individual’s choice. Out of all the designs of mehndi in Marwari style, this is the most simple yet the most elegant one.
2. Curvy Peacock Mehandi Design
This peacock mehandi design typically signifies the Marwari art of mehandi application. The beginning and the end of the pattern has tapered filigree designs and thus can go with all hand types – whether narrow or broad. The semi circular design on the outer surface further keeps the design focused on the shape of the feet and creates a pretty look. Other design in this particular mehandi design picture consists of fillings done with curves, lines and dots.
3. Flower Mehandi
This is a typical filigree mehandi design which incorporates all the aspects of a typical Marwari mehandi pattern like ambis, flowers, leaves, lines, curves and filled up dots. This particular mehndi design of the hand has a mirror image starting from the wrist up to the filled up dots and thereafter the design of the palm is distinct with respect to the flowers design but not totally similar. The hands are filled up with lines and curves and that adds to the beauty of this particular design.
4. Raja Rani Mehandi Design
This mehandi design is very bridal in its appearance and depicts a lot just through the figurines made on the hands using mehndi patterns. In this particular design while the forearms upto the wrist are mirror images of each other, it is the palm that truly depicts the essence of a bridal mehandi. The intricate patterns made in this mehndi are not only time consuming but also extremely detailed to give a distinct look to the figurines that are being depicted in the mehandi. This pattern depicts a raja and a rani on either of the hands and while putting both hands together they appear to be looking at each other, as if truly getting married.
5. Classy Peacock Mehandi
This pattern depicts the mesh and the minaret pattern on the wrist which are mirror images of each other. On the palm is relatively simple yet artistic pattern of peacocks which appear facing each other when both the hands are put together. This pattern is simple yet a very typical design and this is a perfect pattern for kids also as this is simple to draw and is less minute in nature. The fingers in this also as like in others is in continuation with the design and not fully covered in henna as in more intricate and bridal mehandi designs.
6. Multiple Peacock Design
This design although looks extremely fine and intricate, in reality it is a very simple design just done extremely skillfully. The main design of the mehndi pattern is the peacocks done on the centre of the palm and the placement of these with each facing in the opposite direction. Apart from the design of the peacocks, rest of the hand is only covered in curves and lines and the symmetry of the same is kept in mind to give the hand a uniform and a neat appearance. This is a relatively simple but a novel and unique design.
7. Royal Gala Design
This unique Marwari mehandi design is not as complex and detailed as the bridal mehandi design but is a simple design depicting the essence of marriage. While the detailing is less for a bride’s hand, this mehndi design is ideal to be applied on the bride’s hand for other functions like engagement and other pre marriage functions. The design has been simply done with each palm having the figurine of a king and queen made in a manner that they face each other when the hands are put together. Rest of the palm is done only with fillers like curved patterns and sequin like pattern made on the hand which accentuate the actual design of the Mehandi.
8. Ethnic Mehandi Design
This pattern is conventional Marwari Mehendi pattern with a modern look to it. The centre of the palm is not done with the traditional motifs but instead it has a flower which is not completely filled which makes it distinct and it stands out from the rest of the pattern. In this design, the palm is divided into three parts with each part having a primary design and the rest of the area is done with the fillers which give it a mesh like appearance. All the fingers of the palm are kept similar and symmetrical to give an overall neat appearance.
9. Mango Motif Design
The above pattern is a simple mehandi pattern for feet with each foot being the mirror image of the other foot. The feet have typical designs like that of the ambis and filling done with lines and curves. The rest of the feet is also done in floral or veins like design to give an overall appearance of a bigger flower. This pattern is ideal to be used for feet as they are with minimum fillers and bigger than the usual patterns so that the design is distinct and can be seen from a distance also.
10. Arabic Marwari Mehandi Design
This is an unconventional mehandi design which has been inspired from the Arabic style of applying mehandi. This is a very beautiful amalgamation of both the styles with the longish appearance of the hand like Arabic mehandi designs although the detailing inside is typical Marwari with the inner delicate and intricate designs. The flowers and filigree are small as compared to the ones made in Arabic design and the fingers and fillers are more detailed and intricate. All the fingers have been covered in mehandi and appear in conjunction with the main pattern.
All the above mehandi designs for hands, back hands and feet have the basic ingredients of a Marwari mehandi pattern although modifications are always done in the patterns depending on the choice of the artist and also of the person who is applying the mehndi. Mehndi ceremonies during weddings are so common these days that you won’t be surprised to find people of religions other than Hinduism also who go in for these, such is the craze for this art now. Other types of mehndi like Rajasthani mehandi and Pakistani mehandi are also off shoots derived from Marwari art of applying mehandi.
Mehandi, being such an integral part of our culture is now widespread across the states and these designs although Marwari in origin, are now being accepted by all the cultures across the country and are really in vogue. The patterns are simple to apply and there are schools and classes available on the web or otherwise to train someone who wishes to learn and practice the art.