The first group of expressions are expressions that are said during the actual application of henna, or blessings said for applying henna. In many Jewish communities, the application of henna was accompanied by lengthy songs and poems, in both Hebrew and local languages (like Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, Judeo-Persian, and others). I certainly don’t have space to cover those here — maybe in another blogpost. But I’ll offer some short expressions:
|They all look pretty happy to me!|
Jewish wedding, Aleppo, 1914.
Among Syrian Jews in Aleppo, for example, on the night of the henna it was customary to say (Piamenta, 1983, pg. 111): ḥinnet-il-hana, ‘may it be a henna of happiness,’ to which the response was, Allah yhanniki witḥanni idena w’ideki, ‘May G!d make you happy, and may you henna our hands and yours!’
Jews in Urfa [Sanliurfa, Turkey] would bless the bride with short rhyming poems; for example: ha madi iddik alyamin ha ya ward waya yasmin, huwa yaghalbik bissa‘ada wanti taghalbi bilbanin, ‘Stretch out your right hand, O rose, O jasmine, he will give you happiness and you will give him sons.’
Another example: ya marat ibni ‘abit rasik hinna, walama khattabtik malakt janna, winshalla tartaf‘i, wada’iman tatahani, ‘O wife of my son, I filled your head with henna, and when I betrothed you I became ruler of paradise; may you rise up and be always joyful’ (Oster, 1972, pg. 17). There were similar poems for the groom, the parents of the couple, and the entire gathering (Oster, 1972, pg. 18).