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Henna


Botanical Name Lawsonia inermis Linn.
Common NameHenna, Mehendi (Hindi), Maruthani (Tamil), Mehaghni (Sanskrit)

Distribution

Throughout India

Religious association

Henna is not a sacred plant as such, but it is believed to symbolise prosperity, fertility and happiness. It is widely used in a variety of religious and social ceremonies in India. At weddings, the bride’s hand is decorated with henna.

The use of henna is also found in Islam and has been practiced by Muslims for centuries. In fact, the plant is believed to have been used by the Prophet Mohammed and his wives. It is often described as the ‘Medicine of the Prophet’. In India, the night before Id (called as Chand raat), women paint their hands with henna. It also forms part of many rituals including wedding, betrothal, etc.

Uses

Henna is used in traditional systme sof medicine including Siddha and Ayurveda to treat a wide range of ailments including vitiligo, beriberi, headaches, burns, bruises, etc. Ground leaves are applied to sore joints to easerheumatism.

Henna is widely used in cosmetic products especially as a hair conditioner.. Essential oil obtained from the flower is used in perfumery. The oil is also used to prevent premature greying of the hair.

A decoction of henna leaves has been traditionally used as a fabric dye, though this practise has declined with the davent of synthetic dyes.

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