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Mehndi Party for the Bride to Be

When my best friend got married, she wasn't into the all-night strip joint and bar-hopping scene. Before she met her now husband, she spent a year abroad in India, so when it was time for her Bachelorette Party, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

In Indian traditions, the bride gets together with all her female friends and family right before she gets married and they have a Mehndi Party. She gets adorned with henna tattoos all over her hands and feet, so she looks beautiful on her wedding day. Of course, you may want to plan this party a few months before your big day, unless you want to wear henna with your fancy white dress.

Henna tattoos are all natural but not at all permanent. The henna only stains the outer layer of the skin, so it lasts about 2-4 weeks. The dried leaves of the henna plant are ground into a greenish powder, and then mixed with lemon juice and warm water (and anything else in their family's recipe). The chocolate-colored paste is applied with a cone (kind of like baker's use for decorating cakes) or with a thin stick.

The designs are extremely intricate and take hours to apply. The bride has to sit and wait for the paste to dry and set, so if she needs anything, all her gal pals take care of her. After a few hours, the dried paste is then peeled or brushed off the skin, revealing an orange print. Some people even wait until the next morning before peeling off the design to ensure a darker stain - I even slept with plastic bags on my hands, I like being decorated. Never wash the dried henna off with water since that will make the design fade faster. The color darkens over the next few days, but as the dead skin cells begin to slough off, the henna tattoo, too, begins to fade away.

Fit's Tips: If you love this idea, contact your local tattoo parlor, spiritual bookstore, yoga studio, or salon. Someone is bound to know someone who does Mendhi in your area. The artist can come and do just the bride, or do all the guests at your Bachelorette Party. Then for the 2-4 weeks you'll have a visual reminder of this special day spent with the girls.

Want to see what it looks like after the paste is peeled off? Then

Depending on family traditions, some brides have their husband's initials hidden in the designs, and the couple is not considered officially married until the groom finds them. I've also heard that as long as the henna remains on the bride's skin, she doesn't have to perform any wifely duties (like washing the dishes and doing the laundry). Too bad henna only lasts less than a month.

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