Goodbye Penrith, hello Bollywood – My First Mehndi –

Saturday night marked my first Mendi ceremony. I had been hired as a videographer alongside Lucy Vechio to film a traditional Mehndi ceremony.

For those that don’t know (and up until Friday this included me) a Mehndi ceremony is one which celebrates the henna application (temporary tattoos) on the bride and groom prior to their wedding. It is one of the most important events of the ‘whole wedding’ which can last for up to a week. The Mehndi is a pre-wedding ritual.

Lucy Vecchio – my co-videographer

So Lucy and I headed towards Penrith to a little hall amongst a small outer-city town. I felt like we were amidst some kind of minor suburbia mixed with city-sized shopping malls. Very strange. Finally we found the hall. We took one step inside and we were in a whole new world.

The hall was decorated with an ornamental bench which sat under a canopy of fabric. (The attached picture is just a reference off the net – not the actual pics.) Either side was flowers and beads. This was to be the place for the bride and groom to sit once they had arrived. The floor had scattered cusions for the women to sit on for the first event.

The evening started with the guests arriving. Predominantly an event for women, the room was filled with elegantly and colourfully dressed women. All in tradition dress. Music played until a group of women sat down together on the cushions and began playing a drum with their hands and a spoon. The other women sang traditional songs in time to the beat.

The bride arrived but went through a session a prayers before she made her appearance inside the hall. The bride entered, walking underneath a large scarf held high by four men. Other people carried plates with henna paste and tea light candles which were decorated with long streamers. The group led the Bride to the bench where she was greeted by the other guests.

The official ceremony began. Choreographed dance numbers to traditional music were played out by a variety of the guests. My favourite was a solo performance where a woman danced and mimed the lyrics to a song which was obviously a very comical story. Of course, not in English. Her performance however was very entertaining regardless. I was so impressed by the caliber of dancing.

Lucy and I ran around all night filming the event and even had a chance to try some dinner. Also, traditional Indian cooking. I had both the mother of the bride and a number of guests check that it wasn’t too hot. Mostly not, though one chickpea dish did make my eyes water a little. Aside from the ‘hotness’ it was the best Indian food I had tasted.

The Groom entered later in the evening in a similar fashion to the Bride. H sat down next to her. The Groom was then flocked by female guests and had his shoes (jutti) stolen. After some bargaining they were soon sold back to him.

The henna service itself was quite beautiful. The more elderly women would paint the pams of both the Bride and Groom with Henna paste and bless each of them. Many of the women gave blessings to the couple.

The night ended with more dancing, the final number involving the decorated plates ith the henna paste and candles.

Overall a spectacular evening.

They have since asked me to film the wedding this coming weekend. I can’t wait.

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