Mehndi Dresses, Decor, Dances, Dholkis and more (Part 1)

PLEASE, tell me you remember the time when your favorite Aapi or Bhaiyya was about to get married and the entire family (which mostly starts to operate like a hypothetical army at that time) gets down to preparing for the ever-so-eagerly-awaited Mehndis. The kurtay for all the brothers and male cousins are the same, with the beautiful mehndi dresses and flashy colored chunnay huay dupattay. All the sisters and female cousins decide on one type of dress or color (typically yellow, orange, green, purple, pink). And everyone sticks to it!

Mehndi Dresses, Dances and Decor

Typical flashy dupatta for men- Mehndi Dresses

(Typical flashy dupatta for men)

Similar clothes for the sisters and female cousins!

(Similar clothes for the sisters and female cousins!)

The entertainment part of that night was the dholki face-off between the groom’s side and the bride’s side (singing songs that have been passed down through generations!) How many of your kids nowadays know their tappay by heart?! The mehndi dances were only a fraction of the entire line-up of events. The dancers would mostly consist of the bride or groom’s family members, and the entire event would give off a very comfortable and joyful vibe.

Mehndis dholak

(When THIS beautiful instrument was the central entertainment factor!)

And since when did this

Mehndis dholki

(All the ‘ghar walay’ having a decent singing face-off with the other side.)

Become this

Mehndis dance

(I must say, that back got my attention!)

The bride’s dress design would, typically, be a combination of shades of yellow, orange, green etc. and she would wear a paraanda with a very simple, yet traditional, teeka on her forehead. She would either wear a traditional, bright, gotay wala lehenga (the older women of the family would contribute to stitching up the gota on the lehenga and the dupatta) with an embroidered, yet simple, shirt and a very colorful dupatta.

mehndis dress


All the sisters and female cousins wore parandas!

mehndis paranday


And the décor of the venue included countless contrasting sheets, gao takkiyay, flower arrangements that almost always had gainday kay phool strewn in long threads and hung along the walls.

mehndis stage


The women of the family would apply ubtan and mehndi on the bride’s skin and donate some amount of cash as sadqah (a ritual locally known as waarna).

Where did it all go?!

Mehndis flowers



Where did all these rassmain go?!

When did mehndis become a platform for hiring professional dancers with perfectly choreographed dances and songs? Why are brides not a part of the traditional rituals and line-ups? Why are all the mehndi dresses now not so different from bridal dresses?

It’s a little saddening to see how:

  1. Brides nowadays are more involved in participating in 4300 dances at their own Mehndis.
  2. The dancers are rarely ever immediate family members but rather the family members’ cousins’ friend’ classfellows’ girlfriend’s friends.
  3. The dancefloor is the central point of attention and everyone gathers around it to watch girls dance till they drop before…
  4. …The guests get tired of hours after hours of dances and decide to eat their faces out and leave only to…
  5. …Comment on which girl jiggled herself the best.


I have yet to see mehndis much like the ones I loved to attend as a child. It felt special to be someone who was considered important enough to go up on stage and give sadqah for the bride and apply ubtan and mehndi on her. I guess in our times the trend would be to feel special if you’re one of those who ever got a chance to attend those traditional mehndis. Which are now nothing more than a beautiful memory.

(Haye Oh Rabba!)

(Haye Oh Rabba!)

In our upcoming posts, we will review a collection of mehndi dresses by Pakistani designers. If you like this post, share it with your friends on social media.

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