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Beautification Rituals Of Indian Brides

ayurveda beauty traditional
Poto from the movie Jodha Akbar

On her wedding day the bride is considered to be the personification of the Goddess of fortune and beauty, Lakshmi. The wedding day is also believed to celebrate the divinity and beauty of the bride as she transits to womanhood. Each adornment is meant to bring out the natural beauty of the bride. Indian weddings are not one day ceremony, it can be a week long celebration.

Mehendi Ceremony:

Henna on hands
Photo by Parekh Cards

Mehendi ceremony is a Indian tradition dating back over 9000 years ago. Mehendi is a form of temporary body art in which decorative designs are created on the skin, using a paste made of dried henna leaves. The henna plant contains a reddish die that safely stains the skin. It is essential part of wedding celebrations and many Hindu festivals.

Mehendi ceremony is held two or three days before the wedding. It is an evening event which are allowed to attend only the bride, female relatives of both sides and bride's female friends. This ceremony is equally important as the main marriage ceremony.

henna on hands
Photo by Meghut Gorai

The henna for the bride's ceremony has to be delivered by the groom's family on a silver tray with two burning candles. The dried leaves of henna are crushed into a fine powder and mixed with water, lemon juice, eucalyptus oil and clove oil until a smooth and creamy paste is obtained.

A professional mehendi artist or female relative that is already happily married will apply mehendi in elaborate decorative designs to bride's hands and feet. Designs are applied with a cone filled with henna paste or with basic stick. Styles of mehendi design are meant to symbolize blessings, fertility, luck, prosperity and deep bond between husband and wife.

It takes between 3 to 8 hours to complete the application of mehendi. After that the bride must wait for the mehendi to dry and stain her skin. The longer the paste stays on the skin, the darker the design will become. 
When the paste dries it will flake off revealing an orange stain. The stain darkens through oxidation after 2 or 3 days. The final color is usually reddish brown. The palms and soles stain the darkest because the skin is the thickest in these areas. 

The stain can vary from pale orange to dark brow depending on the quality of the henna. Traditionally it is thought that the darker the color the mehendi leaves on the bride's hands the more she will be loved and appreciated by her husband and in-laws. To allow the color to be fully absorbed by the skin, the bride must wait at least 10 hours to wash her hands and feet.

The design will fade away after 2 to 4 weeks. During that time the bride is spared from doing any housework. The longer the mehendi retains its color, the more auspicious it is for the couple. 

It is customary to hide groom's name or initials in the mehendi design. After the wedding ceremony, he has to search his name written on the bride's painted hands. The first wedding night cannot begin until he finds it.

Female relatives also get mehendi decorations applied to their hands and feet, but in more simple designs.

Henna significance
Photo by Pranav Bhasin

In India henna has been used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes for many thousands of years. It is still used as a natural dye for hair, skin and fingernails as well as fabrics.

In Ayurveda it is most commonly used for treating skin rashes, allergies, skin inflammations, cuts, burns, bruises, and scalp disorders. It is also used for hair care and restoring the natural pH balance of the skin.

The reason henna is applied on hands and feet is because according to Ayurvedic anatomy soles and palms contain many vital points and nerve endings that are connected to the brain and other parts of body. 
It has cooling properties that soothes the nerves and the body. It prevents the nerves from tensing up and calms the mind. 
The smell of henna is a powerful aphrodisiac. It has natural antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-irritant and antibacterial properties and enhances general health. It protects the body from any viral diseases and prevents headaches and fever. 

Mehendi decorations became fashionable in the West 20 years ago, where they are called henna tattoos. 
As it was mentioned in this article, henna naturally has orange, red or brown color depending on quality of the leaves. Due to the desire for a “tattoo-black” appearance, the synthetic dye p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is added to henna to give it a black color. PPD can cause severe allergic reactions and permanent scars on the skin. 

Haldi Ceremony:

turmeric face mask ayurveda
Photo by OOTUM Design

Haldi ceremony is an auspicious pre-wedding ritual performed for good luck and purification.
This vibrant ceremony is held at both the bride and the groom's place separately on the morning of the wedding day or one day before the wedding.

A paste made of turmeric, sandalwood, curd and rose water is put on a decorated tray and taken to the priest who blesses it. Then it is applied on the bride and groom's face, neck, arms and legs by their relatives and dear ones. Only the married women apply the paste to bride/groom. 
The ceremony is accompanied by traditional songs and dances. This ceremony was celebrated even in Lord Shiva's wedding with Goddess Parvati.

As well as mehendi, turmeric is described in earliest Vedic ritual books.
Turmeric has many healing and beautification properties. It provides golden glow of the skin, brightens and evens the skin tone and prevents premature aging. 
It helps to exfoliate dead cells and detoxifies the skin. It is mild antidepressant and helps to calm an upset person. It prevents acne and ensures the bride and the groom look fresh during the wedding ceremony.

It is believed that the turmeric paste will bring prosperity to the couple, protect them from negative energies and purifies their bodies and soul. It has the power to ward off negative energies. It is symbolic representation of awakening the inner light.

For this ceremony the bride and the groom wear traditional and usually yellow clothes to invite joy and prosperity in their life. The color yellow is also associated with purity, new beginnings and happiness.

The turmeric paste is washed off after setting for 3 hours, and after the bride and the groom are blessed by elders.
There is a belief that if the bride or the groom apply some of the turmeric paste on their unmarried siblings or friends, it increases possibility for them to get married in a short time. 


Indian woman
Photo by Manjeet Singh Yadav

On the wedding day the bride's hair is oiled with essential oils and then washed with mixture of water, soapnut, amla and milk
After drying hair is scented with the aid of incense sticks and tied in a elegant bun or in a long braid. The bun is decorated with white scented flowers like jasmine, roses and bel.

Indian wedding
Photo by Parekh Cards


Unlike western wedding ceremonies, brides avoid wearing white, as it’s a symbol of mourning. Instead, they opt for a colorful dress that reflects their region of origin. Typically, red is the most auspicious color as it represents happiness and good luck to the married couple. The bride is then draped with an extravagant head scarf and a large amount of jewelry. 


Kajal or the ancient Ayurvedic black eyeliner is applied to line both the upper and lower eyelash lines. It makes the eyes look more enticing, by giving it a defining shape.

Earlier, Kajal was prepared by collecting the soot of an earthen lamp by lighting a wick in ghee and mixed with sandalwood and castor oil.
Kajal protects eyes from, dust, sun rays and smoke. It also removes excess impurities from the eyes.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Sindoor is a red cosmetic powder, applied in the parting of the hair of married Hindu women. Traditional sindoor is made of turmeric, lime and other herbal ingredients. The lime changes the color of turmeric to red. 

Application of sindoor has been performed for over 6000 years. It is much more than a cosmetic mark that enhances beauty.

The sindoor is a symbol of married woman. It is applied to the woman's head by her husband on the day of their wedding after taking sacred vows. After this she applies it herself every day. 
It symbolizes joy and auspiciousness that bride brings with her in the new house when she is married. In Hindu traditions the bride is assumed to be one of the form of Lakshmi during marriage. Lakshmi is Hindu Goddess of wealth, prosperity and beauty and the married woman is the goddess of one home. 
When other men see sindoor they are expected to treat that woman with respect.

Sindoor activates crown chakra which attracts cosmic and pranic energy. It keeps the head cool and improves concentration. On the top of forehead is located important vital point which strengthens the reproductive system, protects women from venereal diseases and enhances the sexual drive.
Since Indian women usually part their hair, sindoor acts like sunscreen and blocks reflecting sun rays on exposed scalp.

The color red signifies honor, power, love and prosperity. Red is known to help retain positive energy of the body and it is believed that it has the capability to keep you strong, healthy and positive throughout the day.

Sindoor became poisonous only in recent times. Modern sindoor mainly uses vermilion – the purified and powdered form of cinnabar which is the chief form in which mercury sulfide naturally occurs. Red lead (lead tetroxide) is sometimes added to sindoor. It is toxic and carcinogen ingredient. 
Traditional sindoor made with turmeric, lime and other herbs is not poisonous.  


Indian red dot on forehead meaning
Photo from the movie Devdas

Bindi is a colored dot worn on the center of the forehead, the point where the major nerves of the body meet. When this spot is stimulated it gives many spiritual and health benefits to person. The massage of this point has been used in many Ayurvedic treatments.

Bindi is applied on Ajna chakra, also known as third eye. It signifies subconscious mind and channel trough which mental power and spirituality can be enhanced. It is seat of wisdom and concentration. Ayurveda and Yoga classify this region as the one spot that facilitates the release of latent energy, also known as kundalini, as it rises from the base of the back to the top of the head. It helps a person become more aware, calm and focused.

The pineal gland is the physical concomitant of Ajna chakra. The primary function of the pineal gland is to produce melatonin. Melatonin has various functions in the central nervous system, the most important of which is to help modulate sleep patterns and it gives clarity on an intuitive level.

In Rig Veda (the earliest known text in the world) bindi is considered the point at which creation begins and it is described as the sacred symbol of the Cosmos in its unmanifested state.

The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is the site where one finally loses ego when one reaches a higher level of spirituality.
Whenever Hindus see bindi on another people it reminds them about spiritual activities and purpose of life. It is a way to remind one another in the society to loo at the world through the eyes of concealed wisdom.

Traditionally bindi is made of turmeric, saffron, sandalwood and other herbal ingredients. Mixture of turmeric and sandalwood powder is one of the best remedies for a headache. It relaxes the nerves and muscles of the forehead and provides instant relief. Sandalwood is known for its cooling properties. It helps in keeping the mind calm and cooling the entire system. 
In Ayurveda, medical herbs are heated until they turn black then made into a paste and applied to the forehead.

For wedding day the bindi is elaborated further with addition of dots and vine motifs along with the eyebrows.

Today bindi is no longer restricted in color or shape. Self adhesive bindis are available in various metals, usually made of thin metal and adhesive on the other side. 
Modern bindis don't have any health nor spiritual benefits in any way, but is more of accessory.


Indian wedding jewelry
Photo by Parekh Cards

Indian brides wear more than one necklace on their wedding day. One of them is manglasutra. Mangalsutra is a black and gold beaded wedding necklace with a gold or diamond pendant.

During the wedding ceremony, the priest chants mantras while the groom ties mangalsutra around bride's neck. It is believed that sacred marriage vows are imbibed in this necklace and it signifies they are united and binds their lives together. It is worn by the bride until her husband's death as a sign of their love and commitment to each other.

The beads represent the power of five great elements.
The center of mangalsutra is placed directly over woman's Anahata or heart chakra. Anahata chakra is associated with balance, calmness, serenity, love and compassion. It helps in the dissolution of a woman's negative emotions. On the physical level it helps in proper functioning of the heart and thymus.
The black beads absorb negative vibrations.
The shape and size of mangalsutra may vary from region to region.


Payal significance
Photo by Parekh Cards

Anklets or payals are made of silver as wearing gold on your feet is considered inauspicious. Gold is metal of Gods and is sacred. To wear it on the feet, the lowest part of the body, is considered to be disrespectful and an ill omen.

Heavily designed anklets are very important part of bride's ornaments.
Traditionally the new bride announces her arrival in her husband's house with the tinkling sound of anklets. 
It sound also served the purpose to scare snakes when walking at night.

When you wear silver anklets you are facilitating ion exchange supplementing the body with this compound which boosts the immune system. The energy produced while we walk is re-vibrated back to one's body due to contact with a metal. Silver absorbs the energy from the polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body and refreshes whole system. It regulates the flow of life force and helps maintain health.

The foot is considered to be a body part that attracts a lot of filth and dirt because people used to walk barefoot. Silver is widely known for its anti bacterial properties. Wearing the anklets made of pure silver stops the inflammation of foot soles.

Toe Rings:

toe rings ayurveda
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Toe rings worn on the second toes are symbols of marriage for Hindu men and women.

All the paths of vital force Prana run down to the toes. The nerve endings connected to the female reproductive system end in the second toe. The slight pressure and friction on the second toe ensures a healthy uterus and increases the chance of conception. 

It can help the woman in bearing children and minimize risks in pregnancy. In some Ayurvedic treatments gynecological problems are treated by massaging the second toe.

Usually, toe rings are gifted by mother-in-law to bride.
The husband puts the toe rings on his wife's second toe on both feet, during the wedding ceremony.
Men wear toe rings with simpler designs. Like anklets, toe rings are also made of silver, for the same reason.

Waist chains:

Waist chain activates Muladhara chakra and gives relief from backache. Muladhara is considered the foundation of the "energy body". 

It emphasizes slenderness of woman's waist and improves her figure.

The slim waist of older women, even after several childbirths, is believed to be the result of the use of this ornament.


Karna Vedha is the practice of the piercing of the ears and it is one of the important Hindu spiritual ceremonies performed for a children.

Piercing the ears helps in the development of intellect, power of thinking and decision making.

For a girl child the first ear pierced is the left ear and for a boy child the first ear pierced is the right ear.
Ear piercing is supposed to be one of the 16 sanskaras or rituals done to mark various stages of human life such as education, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, death etc.

Piercing has to be done exactly in the middle of the ear lobe, since there is located an important vital point. Vital points or marmas are described and explained in Sushruta Samhita - ancient Ayurvedic text on medicine and surgery. Marmas are very similar to acupuncture points.

Yogis often stretch the piercing to stimulate psychic nerves connected to ears.
It improves the health of intestines.

Nose Rings:

why Indian women wear nose rings?
Photo by Mrugesh Karnik

Nose piercing is one way Hindus honor Parvati – the goddess of marriage. 

A girl's nose is pierced when she hits the puberty. Piercing on the left nostril is favored in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic medicine associates left side of the body with female energy. According to most authoritative Ayurvedic script Sushruta Samhita, the piercing of the nose near particular point on the left nostril lessens the amount of menstrual pain, enhance fertility and make childbirth easier.

Some women get both sides of their nose pierced and septum.
Nose studs are usually made of gold, pearls or diamonds. Big nose hoop joined to the ear by a chain traditionally represents a bride's virginity.


bangles significance
Photo by Prati Photography

According to tradition, a woman is not supposed to buy the bangles she will wear. Different colored bangles traditionally signify different things. Red color symbolizes love, power and purity, blue – wisdom, green – new beginnings, yellow – happiness, orange – spirituality, silver – strength and gold – fortune.

They can be made of glass, wood, ivory, precious gem stones, plastic and metals such as gold, silver, platinum, copper and bronze. The sound produced by bangles and other ornaments is generally a positive vibration.
Bangles are usually worn in pairs.

They strengthen the heart and help regulate blood pressure.
While the woman does her chores while wearing these bangles, the created friction between the skin and bangles helps to improve circulation and revitalizing her organs by pressing several vital points. It increases circulation and channelize the energy passing through her skin. The more the friction, the more is the effect.

They are also worn as a wish for the husband's long life. Indian men wear a single bangle after wedding.

Other Jewelry:

ayurveda jewelry significance
Photo from the movie Devdas

Maang Tikka is a hair jewelry made of gold and gems that is placed on the bride's hairline with a pendant that sits on her forehead. This ornament highlights the brides face.

Rings made of different gems and metals have their own characteristics effects on the body. They are used in controlling a number of diseases.

Armlet worn on the upper arm by a bride is believed to ward off evil eye.

Indian ornaments are old as Indian civilization itself. Without jewelry, the traditional dress-up of Indian men and women is incomplete. 
Apart from increasing beauty, jewelry also provide financial security to women who sold it in times of need. Having a good collection of jewelry symbolizes power, good status and wealth of the owner. 

Metal ornaments are highly energized and give positive energy to user. They also add to the beauty of a woman. Gold has several medical benefits. It relaxes the body and has anti-inflammatory properties. It regulates blood circulation and maintains blood pressure and attracts the positive radiations on your surroundings.

Indian wedding clothes
Photo by Parekh Cards

Some Western people consider anklets and bangles as symbol of oppression. These were the symbol of prosperity and it added to the charm of a person. In past times men also wore all ornaments which women wear these days. With time these ornaments were discarded by men. 
Post British annexation, the men fashioned themselves after Victorian/puritanical models of dressing. Even today in India a heavily covered in ornament woman symbolizes a wealthy family. 

Author: Ayurveda Tutorials


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