Expression through Henna

By Sadie Richardson. Sadie lives in Fountain Valley, USA. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Henna is a way to express your inner voice; your personality.  Although henna is often used for medicinal purposes, its main purpose is that of artistic expression. Henna is a sign of a person’s inner sun. It illuminates the brightness and hope that is in a person’s soul and prominently displays it to the world.  One of the original designs for henna was a sun on the palm of a woman’s hand to remind her to allow her inner sun to shine.  Although henna is now used by both men and women, it was originally used just by women.  In cultures that may be seen by the outside world as placing women in a more submissive role, henna allows women to express themselves or feel powerful.

For many people, henna is a way for them to feel confident and beautiful. It is not permanent like tattoos and can be erased if you mess up; allowing people to have the feeling of beauty without the permanence of the tattoo that can be regretted later. The fading of the henna tattoo represents that nothing lasts forever and that all good things have to come to an end but we can still remember the good times.

The outline of each henna has a specific meaning. Knowing these meanings will allow others to understand why henna is so essential. At Hindu weddings, henna represented joy, happiness, beauty, offering, and spiritual awakening. Moroccans often painted their doors with henna to bring prosperity and chase away evil.  Many henna designs symbolize the criticalness of women in society. Other designs, like the flower or henna bud, symbolize joy and happiness and the start of new life. When people get a henna, they may pay attention to the meaning of the image but often they pick the design that goes best with their personality. The location of the henna is very important, even in European society. If it is applied to your feet it symbolizes a bond between body and earth. If it is applied to the hands it represents an offering from you to the world while the back of your hands symbolizes protection. Through a person’s henna design, others can read into that person’s spirit and personality.

At first glance, the picture above would seem to be nothing more than a cultural decoration, perhaps a symbol of diversity or general beauty.  But to those who know the symbolism of henna, the picture above can mean something unique. Her open hands means she is offering something to you.  And within her palms, are flowers. These represent joy or the birth of a new life. When someone reads these open hands with the dark-colored henna flowers, they know that she is offering them hope for a new, long and prosperous life, joy, and happiness. In a society where she may lack power, she is hoping to empower you in your happy life, perhaps trying to make your life a little better despite the unforeseen hardships that could have filled her own life.


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