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The word mahendi (mehndi) is from the Sanskrit MEHAGHNI which is also a synonym for turmeric (haldi in Hindi, haridra in Sanskrit).

The use of mehaghni (mehndi) and turmeric is described in the earliest Vedic ritual books. Turmeric as well as mehndi are important in Vedic customs as a symbolic representation of the Outer and the Inner Sun. Vedic customs are meant to awaken the "inner light'' and so the gold of the inner Sun has an important symbolic function.

Traditional mehndi designs draw the sun on the palm, which in this context represents the mind.

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