The haldi was washed off, but the yellow hues remained. Night fell, the lights came on, and the smell of mehendi wafted through the decorated doors.
Presenting to you, the mehendi ceremony!
I was panic-striken after I saw my parents faces after the haldi ceremony. They had washed their faces, but you could still see yellow patches on their faces from where the haldi had been applied. I was afraid to come out looking half-yellow half-normal! I knew I would have to scrub well in the shower, and scrub I did! I may have taken a bit too long to get ready – by the time I came out, my sister had already knocked 10 times on my door asking me to get out already!
I didn’t have time to blow dry my hair, but I hadn’t intended to anyway. I knew my hair would get heated and curled and God-knows what-not over the next few days, so I gave it a break and just left it as is. Normally, it dries out frizzy, but I took the chance.
I entered the mehendi area awestruck. The lighting by the bay window was just as I had imagined. But I can’t take any credit for décor on any of the functions. It was all decided and organized by my talented mother and sister.
I took my place amongst pillows and cushions strewn around for comfort, and the mehendi began. There were 2 menehdi-walas sitting with me, and this is how the conversation went:
Mehendi-wala: Madam, kaisi mehendi chahiye? Dense, ya khuli khuli?
Me: Khuli khuli
Mehendi-wala: Any design preferences?
Me: Nahi, do whatever you want. Just make it pretty.
Mehendi-wala: Mehendi kahaan tak chahiye?
Me: Yahaan tak (pointing to a place on my arm 2 inches above my wrist) aur yahaan tak (pointing to a place 2 inches above my ankles)
*uproar all around*
Whaaat? You are the bride! Get mehendi atleast till your elbows. What about your legs? Why are you getting such little mehendi? You are the bride only once!
Ah, they went on and on. Well, as Mehak had so nicely put it on her blog a long time ago – once the mehendi dries, they’re just black squiggly lines. And I knew that the more spread out the mehendi is, the more skin shows from between those lines, and the contrast makes the mehendi prettier. That’s just my take on it.
Anyway, since I was the bride, and they were my hands and feet, I got to decide how much mehendi I wanted on them. All pleas blurred in the background, and the mehendi-wala got to work – got to give the bride what she wants!
I was very pleased with how the mehendi turned out. No, it was nothing fancy. But, it was just as I had imagined. And in retrospect, I can confidently say that I did not regret the “less” amount of mehendi I got done. I was just being me, and that’s what all brides should aim to be. If you want to go light on the mehendi, say it! And that’s what you’ll get. But if you’ve always dreamt of mehendi all over your arms and legs, by all means get that done! It’s your day. It’s your time. Do what ever it is that makes you a happy and satisfied bride. That’s all that everyone wants for you anyway.
Once the photographers and the last of the guests left for the night, it was just me, my sister and my parents. And that was the last night we had as just us – we sat and chatted with each other, discussing the day’s events. We put nimbu-cheeni on each other’s hands, and my father helped us out with things we couldn’t touch yet for the fear of the mehendi getting smeared. I was reminded of how it has been just the 4 of us for all these years – people have come and gone, relatives, guests, friends. But the one thing that’s always been constant has been this – the assurance of these 4 people. It’s this rock solid foundation I can always depend on. This has been my family since the day I was born, and soon the family was about to expand. I relished in the feeling of being a kid & an elder sister – and nothing else. There was no other care in the world for me that day.
Tomorrow onwards things would get hectic, so I breathed in all the stillness and calm that is so tangible immediately after the house has been emptied of far too many visitors. The silence was comforting. I applied Vicks on my hands for the first time in my life to deepen the name of the boy whose life would be entwined with mine for the rest of eternity. And I slept like a baby that night.
Photographs by Tarun Chawla Photography
You can read the whole thedelhibells series here: