Today we went to Anu's parents house to get Henna tattoos. It is a tradition (among women) to do this before one of them gets married. Here I will reveal some interesting facts about henna tattoos.
Before they apply the henna to your skin, they put a bit of oil on it. There's also "things" you can do which will make the henna darker. For some reason the henna turns out much more vivid on the palm of your hand than on other parts (even the back of the hand). This might be oil _related_. Some people have skin which will naturally make the henna darker. Applying _more_ henna will also make it darker (at least, there are _techniques_ unrelated to your body which will make the henna more vivid).
Watching women getting henna applied is great for photos, because they pretty much don't move the entire time. People move around a _whole lot_ normally, so a _moment_ in a picture is seriously something that exists for less than half a second. Serendipity is required to get the right shot. With Henna tattoos, everyone is effectively a statue until the Henna dries.
As the henna tattoo dries it will get darker. The same thing happens on the pattern left on your skin. It starts off bright red and eventually darkens to black, then fades. _Before it dries_, henna is basically a paste. If it touches anything, it will stain. If you move, say, your finger, the henna will move about a bit, which will ruin the pattern.
The end result is a bunch of women sitting in a room, chatting, and trying not to move. For Anu, the wife-to-be, she not only has to keep her hand still, but also her arms, her feet, and her legs. She was getting sore, and would have gotten cramps if she didn't move a little bit. She basically looked like a mummy the entire time. Because the Henna is on your extremeties, you can't _do_ anything other than talk.
This leads to some fun times, as people undergo various contortions to do every-day activities, like drinking. Anu was _completely_ helpless, and needed someone else to do almost everything for her, including moving pieces of plastic around so she wouldn't stain the sofas or ground. The Tattoo artists were a bit crap, and were watching the clock more than what they were doing. Ultimately, I'd have preferred they charge more and work on their customer service.
Before removing the henna, a bit of lemon water syrup thing is applied to the skin, and left for a little while. The immediate result is a little bit, or very, red coloured skin on the places where henna was applied. Within a day, these will become dark, almost black.