Henna has a very special place in Turkish culture. When there was no chemical dye in the country, Turkish women used to dye their hair with it. Traditional women still use it for dying their hands or hair. There is an occasion in our culture called Henna Night, which makes it even more special.
How is henna prepared to use?
Mix it with water and combine well. You will get a thick henna dough, which is easy to spread on hands or hair. A few walnut tree leaves are also added to this mixture for an additional brightness in colour in some regions.
But the cultural importance of henna comes from henna night. Have you ever heard this night? It is a very special night for brides. Henna night is held a day before the wedding, mostly in bride’s home or at a place bride and her family choose. It is mostly held for bride for her relatives and friends (woman only, no men), but in some regions groom’s family and friends may also join. Bride generally wears traditional dress, but today most of them wear what they want.
Henna is bought by groom’s family and brought to this ceremony. A woman prepares the mixture, puts it in a tray and places candles around henna mixture. Meanwhile bride sits in the middle of crowd. Her head is covered with a red scarf (red is the colour for bride). People around her sings an emotional folk song with the aim of making bride cry. Crying is traditionally a part of henna night. When she starts crying, a young girl comes with the henna tray with in her hand. She dances around bride with the tray for a while singing that song.
Henna is first placed on bride’s hands by a woman. A golden coin is placed in the middle of each hand, and then henna is spread. Bride makes her hands fist and wears small red cloth bags, not in the form gloves. And she starts dancing too. No more crying after henna! She removes the henna from her hand after some hours or the following morning.
Henna in the tray is then prepared for guests in the form of small balls and a young girl hands out these balls to guests at this ceremony. Guests also put on henna and they can also take extra henna to take with them.
This night is like a rehearsal of wedding and like a farewell party for bride. She’s ready to go and start a new life at her new home after this night.