December 06, 2018 04:41 PM
Altaf Qadri/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Priyanka Chopra incorporated many hidden romantic symbols of her relationship to Nick Jonas into her gorgeous wedding wardrobe. We’ve known about the touching embroidery she included in both of her wedding dresses and the sweet tribute to her mom she featured in her bouquet, and now it turns out, there’s another heartwarming detail that she included in her henna design.

The newlywed, 36, incorporated a sweet tribute to new husband Nick Jonas, 26, in the traditional henna designs applied to her hands before her wedding during the Mehendi ceremony. On the top of her right hand she included a guitar, which is a sweet nod to her musician hubby.

She got the design applied at the Mehendi ceremony, which is when the application of henna paste in elaborate and intricate designs is applied on the bride’s hands and feet.

“The art of mehendi is one of the oldest forms of body art and can be found in many ceremonial practices, mainly South-Asian marriages,” said henna design expert, Divya Patel (@hennabydivya). “Mehendi represents the holy bond of matrimony and is therefore, considered a sign of good luck (‘shagun’).”

To learn more about the traditional custom, we chatted Patel to find out more about Chopra’s elaborate designs (which she’s still rocking days after her wedding).

PEOPLE: How long does mehendi/henna last?

Divya Patel: The longevity of mehendi on an individual’s skin depends on many factors as each person’s skin takes on the color of henna differently. Generally, the color will peak two-three days after application and usually looks fresh for about a week. As the skin renews itself and exfoliates away, the designs fade away gradually over the next two-four weeks.

PEOPLE: Who applies the mehendi/henna at the ceremony?

DP: Back when the mehendi application consisted of simpler designs, it was customary to have a relative/family member/close friend apply a bride’s mehendi. Nowadays, the intricacy of the patterns in mehendi is such that a bride will generally hire a professional bridal henna artist to apply henna for her big day. Choosing the artist depends entirely on the bride’s preference as each artist has their own style and strengths.

PEOPLE: How long does the process take?

DP: Depending on the amount of mehendi and the level of intricacy the bride prefers, as well as the pace the bride’s henna artist can work and the number of artists working, the process can take anywhere from 3-6 hours.

PEOPLE: Take us through Priyanka’s mehendi on her hand? Does it have any significance?

DP: With time, the simple, traditional patterns of mehendi have become more intricate, elaborate and customized. Each design has different levels of intricacy and can be made unique for the bride. Nowadays, brides prefer to customize their henna to tell a story or to incorporate elements in their mehendi that are meaningful to the bride/groom. Traditional Indian designs include peacock motifs, floral designs, bride/groom faces or figures. Although Priyanka opted for a shorter length, you can see that the mehendi on her palms was quite intricate and traditional. In some of the post-wedding photos, you can see a portrait/figure of a bride on her right palm which means there was most definitely a portrait of a groom on the other palm! As done traditionally, her fingertips are covered solid in henna paste. Upon closer look at Priyanka’s mehendi, you can see a guitar design on the back of her right hand to represent Nick’s love for music.

PEOPLE: How about Nick’s?

DP: It’s difficult to breakdown the mehendi on Nick’s hands but in the photos shared by Priyanka and Nick, you can make out an Om on his palm followed by Priyanka’s name. How sweet!

PEOPLE: Do both the bride and groom get mehendi/henna on their hands and feet?

DP: The bride will usually get her hands and feet adorned in mehendi. As for the groom, generally something small is done as a mark of good omen.

PEOPLE: Do family members also get mehendi/henna?

DP: Yes, the female family members, relatives and friends of the bride and groom also get Mehendi applied to their hands, although the designs are nearly nowhere as elaborate as the bridal Mehendi.

PEOPLE: Is there any other significance behind the ritual you’d like to share?

DP:  The henna plantis known for its cooling properties and so the application of henna on the hands and feet also aids in calming the bride’s nerves. Traditionally, somewhere within the intricate bridal Mehendi, the groom’s initial is included and in post marriage ceremonies, the groom has to try to find it. It is also said that the darker the color of the Mehendi, the more love the bride will receive at her in-laws and especially from her husband.

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