Application of mehandi/henna as a temporary form of skin decoration in the Indian Subcontinent, as well as by expatriate communities from these areas. Mehndi decorations became fashionable in the West in the late 1990s, where they are sometimes called henna tattoos. Henna is typically applied during special occasions like weddings and festivals like Diwali, Bhaidooj, Teej and Eid. In some Hindu festivals, every woman tries to have Henna done on her hands and feet. It is usually drawn on the palms and feet, where the color will be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin which binds temporarily to lawsone, the colorant of henna. Henna was originally used as a form of decoration mainly for brides.
In the modern age, usually people buy readymade Henna cones, which are ready to use and make painting easy. However, in rural areas in India, women grind fresh henna leaves on sil (grinding stone) with added oil, which though not as refined as professionally prepared henna cones, brings much darker colors.
Mehndi is a ceremonial art form which originated in ancient India. Intricate patterns of mehndi are typically applied to brides before wedding ceremonies. The bridegroom is also painted in some parts of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sudan. In Rajasthan (north-west India), the grooms are given designs that are often as elaborate as those for brides. In Assam, apart from marriage, it is broadly used by unmarried women during Rongali bihu (there are no restrictions to the married ones). Henna is also common in some gulf states, specially Bahrain, where the night before the wedding night is dedicated to decorating the bride with henna, and called "Henna night".