Henna in Istanbul

What is Henna? What is the Meaning of Henna?

In the dictionary henna is described as ‘A reddish-brown dye made from the powdered leaves of a tropical shrub, used to color the hair and decorate the body.’ and in Turkish culture, it means a very important ritual of the bride before the wedding ceremony. The whole family and friends meet and dye the hand of the bride-to-be by singing and dancing to celebrate her new family with blessings.

Henna In Turkish Culture

Photo by Yasmine Arfaoui – 

Turkey, contrary to popular belief, is not a homogeneous country in terms of culture, each corner of the country has its own diverse regional culture. However, as the religious factor is something in common (90% of the population is made up of Muslims), certain types of traditions are present throughout the Turkish territory, such as the night of henna (Kina Gecesi) and the festival of circumcision.

Henna night is usually held the night before the wedding ceremony, where only the women, the bride, her friends, and family participate. The party usually takes place at the bride’s or her friends’ house, but in more modern cities there are party houses or hotels dedicated to promoting the event.

The bride wears a red or burgundy dress (but they can be in other colors such as green, pink, navy blue) and sits in the middle of the room, where one of the women will paint her hands with henna and the future mother-in-law will have to place a coin of gold in one of your hands. After this rite, they all start dancing and celebrating their future marriage.

Is the Same Thing as Tattoo?

Even if it looks similar to a tattoo in shape, it’s different in means of ingredients because henna derives from leaves of shrubs since ancient times. On the other hand, the tattoo has been popular in the modern world in the last few centuries and due to its chemical components, it was not a common tradition among people until recently.

How Does it Work?

Powdered leaves are blended with water and applied to the part of the body with the design you prefer and then there will be a long waiting process to dry, in this process natural color of the herb will insert under the skin and stay there approximately one month. However, the duration will change depending on the frequency of washing and the quality of the henna leaves that you used.

Where the Henna Comes From?

Henna in powder.

Henna in powder.

The origin of the henna is not certain but it was a very common medical treatment in ancient periods. We see henna culture from India to Egypt and Pakistan to Anatolia, all around the Middle East it’s applied to color the body, celebrate the festivals, and occasional days. To relieve anxiety from the body it’s applied to the fingers and feet of people as nerve cells are more common in these parts of the body.

Is it Harmful to my body?

Due to natural ingredients, it’s not harmful to the human body but in highly allergic bodies it can cause damage so please be careful to apply sensitive people. Until recent years, women dyed their hair with natural henna to protect them from skin problems and dermatological skin diseases.

Some visitors who are doing private Istanbul tours with local tour guides are interested in henna and in case you advise us of your interest in advance we can make an appointment for you to best henna artists of Istanbul and your tour guide can assist you within your tour day. Please feel free to contact Guided Istanbul Tours regarding customized Istanbul tour itinerary or personal interest tours. Henna workshops in Istanbul are one of the most popular activities in recent years, please don’t hesitate to advise our team if you would like to join one.

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