65 Festive Mehndi Designs – Celebrate Life and Love With Henna Tattoos

Mehndi, which is also known as henna, is a paste made from turmeric, which is used to paint intricate designs on the skin. Originating in India mehndi was originally used to help cool the skin and women used it to combat the heat in their country.

As time went on it was used to decorate the body of both men and women during special occasions such as festivals, weddings, and other traditional ceremonies.

It was popularized by Western movies and decorative mehndi designs became fashionable all over the world being referred to as henna tattoos or temporary tattoos.

Henna has been used to decorate women’s bodies for celebrations as far back as the Bronze Age where it was believed to bring blessings and luck and used to symbolize joy and beauty.

The word “tattoo” is used in the figurative sense with regard to henna tattoos as they are not really tattoos at all.

Tattoos are created by introducing ink under the skin with a needle, which remains there permanently while mehndi “tattoo” designs are painted on top of the skin and only last a short while.


The Meaning of Different Design and Patterns

Henna paste generally comes ready made in a cone-shaped tube and after application, the area of skin is wrapped with plastic or medical tape overnight.

The final color achieved is dependent on the pigment of the skin, but usually comes out in reddish brown shades, which will last one to three weeks. Moisturizing the skin will help the henna tattoo remain for longer.

Traditional designs included the sun as a subject which symbolized enlightenment, but since then hundreds of designs have become available ranging in complexity. Each has a different meaning and may be used for different occasions.

Of course, you can also choose a design based on what the subjects mean to you or what you find attractive. Let’s have a look at the symbolism behind some of the most popular designs and patterns:


Flowers are one of the most popular subjects for henna tattoos. They are associated with femininity, nature, happiness, and celebration. Different flowers can also have a specific meaning.

An example is the Lotus flower which is often drawn in mehndi patterns and represents creativity, purity, grace and spiritual awakening.

Flower designs are often used by those who are learning to do mehndi as these designs are sometimes more basic and simple to practice.

Flower or Leaf Buds

Buds represent new life, fertility, and joy and are often used by pregnant women or brides. These buds are often combined with open flowers and vines.

Vines and Creepers

Many henna tattoo designs include vines, often depicted with leaves or flowers. This design is often seen on brides as they represent long life, resolve, and vitality; essential elements of any successful relationship.


A pattern of ripples, flowing lines and soft edges is used to represent water in mehndi designs. Water is essential to life, but can also be seen as a symbol of the ebb and flow of life or for its pure and renewing properties.

Moon and Sun

The moon has been known to signify positive change, good health and in some cases everlasting love. A crescent moon can indicate a new baby on the way and may be used by expectant mothers. The sun is a sacred symbol in the Indian culture representing the definitive source of energy.

As mentioned earlier, it is a representation of enlightenment, immortality, and revival. Often moon or sun designs will also include stars; which are regarded as a symbol of new light and hope.

Butterflies and Dragonflies

Butterflies are a totem for transformation, change, and new beginnings while dragonflies have even deeper meaning; often being associated with self-realization, emotional maturity and ultimately understanding the meaning of life.

Butterflies and dragonflies can make striking temporary tattoo designs – especially when applied on the hands so that each hand has one wing and when the hands are placed together the design is complete.


Birds such as parrots and sparrows are quite popular in these designs. It is a universal symbol for freedom and are considered in some religions as messengers from the gods. The most popular bird used is the peacock, often used for brides, which signifies beauty and spiritual awakening.


While reptiles may not be a design that brides would enjoy they have powerful significance and are often seen in mehndi in the shape of lizards and snakes. Reptiles are among the most ancient life on the planet and are often associated with adaptability, creation, balance and masculine power.


A mandala is a ritual symbol in the Indian religions. Mandala is a term used to describe a geometric pattern that represents the universe. It is used by mehndi artists in a circular shape and is quite a sought after design due to its appealing appearance and deep significance.


The eye is often incorporated into traditional mehndi designs and is said to reflect any evil wishes back to the gazer; making it a protective symbol, popular for wedding celebrations.


Also known as the crown chakra or thousand petal lotus is considered the seventh chakra in Tantric yoga traditions. A chakra is considered by Indian religions as an energy point in the nonphysical body and the Sahasrara is considered to represent pure consciousness and is used to symbolize enlightenment.

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Placement Of Mehndi Designs

Traditionally these designs were placed on the hands, wrists, feet and ankles (sometimes the lower leg as well) but as they became more popular people started placing mehndi tattoos on other areas of their body as well, such as the stomach or lower back.

You can choose any placement that you desire for your temporary tattoo, however, these designs are quite intricate and look better when confined to small body parts and areas.


Designs on the palms are said to signify being able to receive blessings and offer blessings to others. Popular designs for the palms include flowers, the sun, and mandala. Designs on the back of the hand are said to provide protection and fish and birds are regularly included in these tattoos.

Feet and Legs

The feet are the contact point between the earth and the body so designs such as the Sahasrara and mandala are often used for these designs; to strengthen the connection between the wearer and the earth. Vines and flowers are also common designs for the feet.

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Traditional Use Of Mehndi in Weddings

Indian weddings are not one-day events like Western weddings. They often include pre and post wedding ceremonies and can be long celebrations.

The bride and groom often attend a pre-wedding banquet where a professional mehndi artist will be on hand to paint the bride’s hands and feet with incredibly fine and detailed designs while the guests sing and dance.

To show off the designs the bride will wear jutti instead of formal shoes. These are pump style shoes made with leather and extensive embroidery in gold or silver thread.

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Getting a Henna Tattoo

While getting a permanent tattoo can be painful, a henna tattoo is painless, however, it can take some time to apply, depending on how detailed the design is and the skill of the artist. Bridal designs may take a few hours so be prepared to sit still for quite a while.

Do research to find qualified artists in your area if you are interested in a henna tattoo or if you are artistic you could buy the kits and practice doing your own.

There are plenty of tutorials online to help with this. Make sure to follow the aftercare instructions given by the artist or online guide so that your henna tattoo will last.

Mehndi designs will usually set in an orange or dark maroon shade on the skin. Some artists may offer to design a temporary tattoo like this in black (black is a popular shade for regular tattoos and western clients often request this) but be wary.

True mehndi is made with henna leaves and natural oils and is never black. In order to produce black chemicals will often be added to the mixture and while henna is quite safe to use on the skin, these chemicals can cause allergic reactions.

Not only are mehndi designs beautiful to look at but as we have learned they are also rich in history and symbolism. As they are traditionally used for celebrations they portray a joyful theme with most of the designs being grounded in nature or spirituality.

It’s no wonder that this form of temporary tattoo art has become so popular. This is a beautiful skin decoration that can be enjoyed by anyone as the process is quite safe and natural and the results are temporary.

You could choose to have a mehndi design during your holiday or any other time that you want to look and feel beautiful!

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