Sunday, June 21, 2009
Madarangi plant is in bloom sporting inflorescences consisting of tiny light yellowish green flowers. Madarangi or Mehendi or Henna leaves are used for tattooing (without needles) hands and feet before auspicious ceremonies like marriages. It is said that the Madarangi plant (botanical name: Lawsonia inermis) was originally from Egypt.The lower picture shows an enlarged view of the tiny flowers.
The name 'Madarangi' is interesting. Tulu people usually call it as 'Maadrengi' an usage probably derived from the word Madarangi. It is said that the plant was known as 'Madayantika' during Gupta period of history. The name Madarangi bears similarity to the word Madayantika.
The plant is known as Henna in Arabic. It is also reported that the preserved mummies (dead bodies) of ancient Pharaohs show stains of Henna marks on fingers and toes, suggesting that Henna was in use in Egypt during that time.It is possible that the plant was brought from Egypt to India by the immigrants during early history.
Madarangi =Maadrengi= Henna = Mehendi = Lawsonia inermis.
Applying henna on auspicious days is common in India. It is indispensable ritual prior to marriage ceremony. There is a special programme known as 'Madrengi Dippini' (Mehendi Karyakram/Rasam - Hindi) a day or two prior to marriage solemnising day. There are many methods of preparing paste from leaves or powder and applying of henna. Now-a-days ready-mix henna paste is available in cones. After prayer and blessings of elders, henna is applied to bride's hands and legs by expert ladies in intricate and attractive designs. It is a part-time job for young ladies. In Tulunadu, in olden days henna was applied by elderly ladies, who were experts on their own right. For designing, they used dry-gum of jack fruit and sweet cucumber seeds. The mixture of lemon and sugar is applied with clean cotton patch on that part of hand and leg where henna is applied, thus ensuring moistness and non-peeling. Scraping of henna is to be done after 4-5 hours but one has to make sure that water is not touched for 12-14 hours to ensure deepness of colour. After scraping, coconut oil or mustard oil is applied to firm up the deepness of colour. It is said that deepness of colour signifies strong bond of love of bride with mother-in-law.
Madarengi (Henna) is a useful plant to mankind in many ways:Medicinal properties and uses as:
a) a dye (paste of henna leaves) for hair, finger nails, palm, etc. for women;
b) juice of tender leaves for leprosy, sepsis, worms, jaundice, skin diseases, etc;
c) decoction of its bark, leaves and flowers for bathing patients afflicted with fits, epilepsy, spasm, etc;
d) inducer of good sleep, if milk, boiled with its leaves, is consumed;
e) remover of excessive heat of body, if juice of leaves mixed with 'jeerige' (cumin seeds) is taken;
f) remedy for urinating and menstrual problems;
g) remedy for headache, if mixer of coconut oil and juice of henna leaves is applied;
h) Blackening of untimely greying hair by applying boiled coconut oil mixed with henna juice.
[Source: (a) to (d) Tulu Lexicon(p.2506), (e) to (h) Griha Sangaati (p.478)]
-Additional notes: H.Vishwanath-
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