Temporary, yet charming, a henna tattoo is classic design people tend to get when they don't want a long-term commitment with a permanent tattoo. When you're looking for something different and exciting (and not permanent) - henna tattoo might be just the one for you.
So, what exactly are henna tattoos?
In Africa, India, the Middle East, and in many western Pacific islands, henna tattoo is associated with ancient traditions - and are especially popular during wedding celebrations. According to different cultural traditions, the brides and the grooms adorn their skin with different henna designs.
Henna plant (Lawsonia inermis) can be found in South Asian and North African countries and it's used to make the paste (crushed leaves and twigs) for a henna tattoo. It's applied directly to the skin and you can expect to see orange to dark maroon stains in the skin. Henna usually fades away around 7 to 14 days as it only affects the top layers of your skin. Additives such as lemon juice, water, molasses and tea are used to prevent the temporary tattoo from spoiling.
Henna tattoo has a very wide selection of meanings depending on the placement and the images. Let's start with the placement. The right hand is masculine and the left one is feminine while a tattoo on a palm symbolizes generosity and having it on the back of the hand represents inner strength.
Moving on to the symbolism... Birds mean the heavens, butterflies renewal and fish represents a woman's eyes - which in Hindu belief refers to Avatar of Parvati, Minakshi. Different flowers, leaves, and vines symbolize energy, life and joy. Especially the lotus blossom - which symbolizes purity and strength in adversity.
But wait.. there's more! Reptiles symbolize wisdom, dragonflies represent rebirth and if you decide to get an eye by itself, it's supposed to defend you from evil intentions. Different celestial images such as the moon, stars and the sun represent a love that is as boundless as the sky.
This is just an introduction to the symbolism of henna tattoos because the meanings vary in different cultures.
What to keep in mind..
Black henna is dangerous to your skin - it can lead to blisters and burns that can cause a lifelong scar because it's full of toxic additives. Natural henna that has been used for thousands of years comes across as orange, red or reddish brown. So, next time you are planning to get a henna tattoo, make sure to ask the artist what color the tattoo will be.