Wedding – The Henna Feast

beautiful designs in henna

The Henna Feast takes place a couple of days before the wedding, in the Babylonian tradition. Only close friends and relatives are invited. Henna is mixed with water and some glitter to form a doughy paste. It is shaped into eleven balls, the size of a ping pong ball and are placed on a silver tray decorated with flowers and candles. The bridal couple are seated in two chairs that are placed in the center of the room; the henna tray is on a side table nearby. During singing and dancing around the couple, the groom, both sets of parents, family and friends give the bride wedding presents, usually jewelry. This stems from the old times, when jewelry was the bride’s only security for her future family in case of hard times, since the husband controlled all the money, including any dowry that her parents may have given him. There are no other presents at the wedding! Then the bride and groom extend out their hands, palms outward, fingers separated (Hamsa-style, to ward off the evil eye). Eleven honored guests are asked to each take a henna ball and place it on either one of the ten fingers of the bride or on the pinky of the groom. In the old times, these were tied around the bride’s fingerccss, so her nails got the henna stain, voila` nail polish! This is followed by a lot of traditional songs. Nowadays, the Babylonian communities in the US, such as NY and Los Angeles, have combined the Henna Feast with the adopted American tradition of a bridal shower. Men and women are invited, and the bride gives the groom a present too, usually a watch! The henna balls are removed very quickly to avoid staining the manicured fingers, or Turkish delight balls are used instead.

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n the Jewish religion, there are several branches of the faith–Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform (most liberal). Some Jewish customs are dependant upon which branch you practice and follow, and some customs appear within every faction.

One ancient Israeli custom is for the Bride to wear a blue ribbon in her hair as a symbol of her fidelity.

No weddings are held on the Sabbath, on Holy days, or during festival periods. Most ceremonies are performed on Saturday evening after sundown or on Sunday. Ceremonies are performed in both Hebrew and English, and are filled with traditional rituals. Rings are plain gold bands. The Bride wears her ring on the right index finger, except in the Reformed faith where it is worn on the left ring finger.

Orthodox pre-wedding ritual where the Bride is “veiled” by the Groom as a sign of their betrothal.

Breaking the glass
Reminder of the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and of other calamities of the Jewish people that should not be forgotten A less religious meaning is sometimes the breaking of the old family and the beginning of a new family as a couple.

Braided loaf of egg-rich bread. The reception begins with the Blessing over the challah, which is then cut and distributed to each table for good luck.

Traditional dance where the bride and groom are raised in chairs onto the shoulders of their guests at the reception.

A type of canopy under which the ceremony is traditionally performed. The bride may walk around the groom 3 or 7 times, as she arrives under the huppah, symbolizing the woman is a protective wall for her husband and upon stepping inside, that they have a new status or family circle. The parents stand outside the huppah on the sides.

Signing of the marriage contract by the Groom. It is a document in Hebrew detailing the Groom’s promise to provide for the Bride. This is read as part of the ceremony and then the ceremony ends with the reciting of the 7 Blessings and the breaking of the glass.

In Orthodox and Conservative sects, men are required to cover their heads with yarmulkes (silk toppers). Women wear hats or kerchiefs.

Seven Blessings
Reminder that life’s goals are not selfish.

Combinations and story dances like the Hora

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