Henna Traditions and Symbolism

Henna Traditions and Symbolism

An ancient form of body adornment, henna designs have many significant meanings.

Hands ~ the most popular and long-lasting area of the body.

Palm ~ designs invoke images of opening and offering (usually sun, flower, mandala)
Back of hand ~ acts as a shield-closing, defending, clenching-symbolising protection.

According to Eastern Indian Palmistry
Right hand ~ Male, Projective
Left hand ~ Female, Receptive

Feet ~ the tops stain deeply & are long-lasting.

The feet are recognized as a point of divine contact, considered a holy junction, where Human being and Earth meet.


Peacocks ~ beauty
Swans ~ success
Birds ~ messengers (between heaven and earth)
Butterflies ~ transformation
Parrots ~ messengers of love
Dragonflies ~ rebirth
Fishes ~ a womans eyes
Scorpian ~ love and romance, its sting is analogous to Cupid’s arrow while being stung produces the same effects as being in love – glittering eyes, breathless, heat and feverish
Flowers ~ joy and happiness
Vines and leaves ~ longevity, devotion, perseverance, entwined lives and vitality
Lizards and snakes ~ seekers of enlightenment
Tortoise ~ Protection and fertility
Lotus Blossom ~ the light within / the awakening of the human soul. Grace, beauty, creativity, sensuality, femininity, and purity.
Sahasrara ~ thousand-petal lotus ~ uniting the soul with the ‘Divine Source’
Sun, Moon,and Stars ~ deep and lasting love between lovers/partners
Paisleys ~ represent fertility and good luck
Eye ~ said to mirror back the ‘Evil Eye’
The bud ~ signifying new growth especially at the end of a drought, and thus represent new life, fertility and joy – or as a metaphor in bridal mehndi to symbolise the start of a new love and a new life.
ZigZag ~ this symbol means “rain” and represents fertility and abundance.
The game (chess board) ~ an ancient symbol which, in different variants, represents happiness and joyful moments.
Ripples ~ represent running water, which purifies and brings life. Also symbolising human emotion.
Square ~ magical, used to heal and protect the sick.


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