Symbolism of Mehndi – What does your Mehndi mean?

Mehndi has been an undeniable part of the wedding ceremonies, festivals and other traditional rituals or ceremonies in countries like India, Pakistan and the Middle East. An age old tradition that not only reflected the beauty on hands, but also a sensible scientific explanation behind, Mehndi has slowly evolved over the years.

With the lapse of time, this art of decorating the hands and feet with elegant designs has also swept across the west like a wave, and has become a part of the fashion world, slowly and steadily. The traditional designs have been improvised to suit the trends and the fashion needs of women who chose to embellish their hands with henna designs.

However, when it comes to the authentic mehndi designs, they are not just something intricate drawn on hands to beautify it. Instead, each had a symbolism. Right from the most basic pattern of sun and stars, to the ornate bird, leaf and fruit motifs, these mehndi designs have a great meaning behind.

Here are a few traditional mehndi designs and their deep symbolism as per the cultural texts.

  1. Flowers and Vines:

For ages, flowers have been one of the most widely drawn mehndi patterns. It is said that the flowers bring happiness and joy into one’s life. And so, it has been popular design during the weddings and other important celebrations of life. Further, the type of flower used in the pattern also has a meaning of its own. It is said that a lotus flower stands for sensuality, grace, femininity and purity. The vines, leaves and creepers behind it reflect the devotion.


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  1. Birds:

Birds are often known as the messengers sent from the Heaven to Earth. So, the hands of often decorated with birds of various kinds; parrots are the bearers of love, peacocks for their mesmerizing beauty and swans for the success.

  1. Butterflies & Dragon Flies

One can also see beautiful winged insects like Butterflies and dragon flies etched onto the palms of women with the Henna, because they are often said to represent change, rebirth and fertility, as associated with the way their life cycle is.


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  1. Paisley

Often regarded as one of the most common designs of Mehndi in today’s world, Paisley stand for its intricacies and sophisticated beauty.

  1. Reptiles (Lizards and Snakes)

Though lizard and snake designs are not very familiar in the top mehndi patterns, they are used to represent enlightenment.


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  1. Scorpion

Scorpions may seem to have a negative symbolism. But, on the contrary, it stands for love and romance coming as a surprise to many.



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  1. Turtles:

Turtles designed with mehndi serves as a representative of protection and fertility.


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These are just a few of many designs, each of them carrying a different meaning. With time, Mehndi has evolved tremendously and there are new designs coming up every day. These might be done based on the occasion, or purely the preferences of the individual.  And needless to say, each of these patterns, be it abstract or shapes, have a unique meaning to it.



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