Traditional Henna parties usually take place within the week before a special occasion, such as a wedding, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, or baby showers. During pre-wedding Henna parties, the oldest member of the family (often the grandmother) smudges henna in the palm of the bride and groom to symbolically bestow the new couple with good health, fertility, wisdom, and security. The henna is believed in Moroccan tradition to protect the couple from demons. The grandmother covers the henna, a dough-like paste produced by mixing crushed henna plant leaves with water, in order to lock in body heat and generate a richer color. Normally, the henna will dye skin orange for up to 2 weeks. In Moroccan folklore, the bride is exempt of her household duties until the henna completely fades. After the bride and groom are blessed with the henna, the guests also spread henna on their palms to bring good luck.
Last night I went to my first Henna party; one of Susan’s cousins is getting married this week. It was different, colorful, and enjoyable; a noisy collection of traditional song and dance, ceremony, and celebration. A big mazel tov to the happy couple and all their family.