The Revival and Modern Feel of the Henna Party
Khinayakhti (or Henna Party) is a beautiful and spiritual ceremony with a deep meaning. The henna ceremony is meant to bring good luck and blessings to a new couple.
The tradition of Khinayakhti has been in Azerbaijan for centuries. But for some time now, this blessing had become more obscure.In recent years, the henna party has adopted a more modern feel, and henna has returned to the ranks of wedding traditions.
The henna ceremony is a purely cultural celebration with no religious significance, and organizing such an event can come at great expense. Some couples might invite a henna artist to their event to entertain guests while renting a special traditional place and wearing traditional costumes. Not everyone can afford to have such a party outside their home; many instead prefer to have a smaller henna party that is often celebrated in private homes with the participation of family and close friends.
A henna party is designed for a bride’s ceremony. In ancient times, the ceremony was held at the girl's home. In recent years, however, henna ceremonies are held in outside spaces, usually in traditional ones. The henna ceremony is meant to signify the last night of the bride’s singleness, and only other women may attend.
One of the main attributes of the henna ceremony is the bride's dress.This dress is usually decorated with red color and national elements. The bride sits in the center, her face covered with red kerchiefs while her friends sing and hold candles.
The basket of henna is brought to the party by women from the groom-to-be’s home.
Henna is made and put onto the bride's hand until it dries.The traditional ways of placing henna have been modernized from plain circles to ornate patterns.
The bride’s grandmother also receives a henna decoration.
Nazrin Nasirova is one of those who is responsible for giving a new breath to henna in Azerbaijan.
Now it is Nazrin’s turn. She draws henna design onto the hands of the bride’s friends. Nazrin became interested in the art of henna after visiting India. Now she uses natural henna that is specially ordered from India. The ornaments she draws remain for 7-10 days. Nazrin says that each design has its own meaning. She believes that the designs are meaningful for everyday wear as well as ceremonial decorations. Once, she decorated the stomach of a pregnant woman for 3 hours.
For this ceremony, called the “hakyshta,” in which participants learn the instructive and humorous quatrains written about the bride, sister-in-law, and husband. This light-hearted ritual was a very popular aspect of the old henna party traditions and is celebrated today when the party takes place in traditional halls.
Previously, before the wedding, the women gathered at the "paltar bichti," cutting and sewing clothes, but nowadays people buy their clothes and sew privately and this ritual is quietly disappearing.
Henna parties also occur throughout the eastern Mediterranean region, such as Morocco, the gulf states, and in many expatriate communities throughout the world. Known as mehndi in India, the practice dates back to at least 2000 B.C.E., and its used in ceremonies that can be found in cultures from South Asia to North Africa. In India and other countries, henna is arranged in intricate lace or floral patterns on the hands or feet, signifying good health, fertility, wisdom, protection, or spiritual enlightenment.
From the outside, it looks exotic. The colors of the henna party are rich and warm, and people love the authentic feel of the henna. They love the tradition, and besides, it's a jovial party.