In recent years, with the resurgence of interest among Israeli Mizraḥim in traditional folk customs and religious observance more generally, Yemenite Jews have revived the pre-wedding henna ceremony, in which the bride dons a traditional costume complete with an elaborate headdress and special jewelry, and her hands and those of her guests are smeared with henna. Malin Fezehai describes the ceremony. (Pictures and video can be found at the link below.)
By the design of the dress, the bride takes the shape of a triangle. “The shape is very central in the material culture of Yemen,” said Carmella Abdar, a professor of folk culture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Triangles symbolize the woman’s fertility and are believed to have supernatural powers, but she said that in modern Israel, the ceremony has more to do with “ethnic identity than magical powers.”
In Yemen, there were many similarities between Muslim and Jewish brides. The practice of dyeing hands and feet has been used for centuries in India, Pakistan, Africa, and the Middle East; Jews adopted the tradition from their Muslim neighbors. Abdar said that Jewish jewelers in Yemen would make jewelry for both Muslims and Jews. They also added some distinctly Jewish touches, like the necklace-like labeh, worn below the chin, and stacked bracelets.
Toward the end of the [henna ceremony], the immediate family gathers on stage, and guests watch as the henna paste is mixed, speeches are made, and songs are sung to praise the bride. The bride applies the henna paste to the palms of her guests. Once dried and removed, the henna paste will leave an orange tint, showing that they have been to a celebration.