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Agdes Baghirzade 
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The ritual of henna in Turkey

The ritual of applying henna to a bride before the wedding has existed since the ancient times, and is still very much alive in many Islamic countries in the Middle East and Africa; the tradition is also common in India, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, among the Crimean Tatars and other ethnic communities. In many cultures the ritual symbolizes the bride's transfer from one world to the other: from maidenhood to married life, it is a farewell ceremony to the bride's maiden home. This is how the ritual begins. The lights are turned off and the henna is brought in. The bride, whose face is hidden beneath a red veil, sits in the center of the room. Lit candles are carried around her which, undoubtedly, symbolizes the purification by sacred fire. The women guests then begin to sing a poignant wedding song about a young girl forever leaving her birthplace, her parental home, her father and mother. The most happily married woman among the present at the ceremony is given the honour of conducting the ritual of henna. The woman proceeds to paint the bride's hands and feet with henna. The unmarried bridesmaids also have their hands henna-painted because according to the legend, it will help them get married in the near future. The ritual is over
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