You’re Invited to HCPSA’s Mock Mehndi!

Category Student Voices

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Hana Rehman Portrait Hana Rehman
Hana Rehman Class of '25
Authored on May 08, 2024

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A mehndi ceremony is a pre-wedding celebration that is an integral part of weddings in many South Asian cultures, particularly in India and Pakistan. It includes music, dancing, and traditional rituals, fostering a joyous gathering of family and friends.

Each year since 2021, the Harvard College Pakistani Students Association (HCPSA) hosts a Mock Mehndi to showcase Pakistani culture through dance, food, decorations, and traditions. This past year, I had the privilege of hosting the third annual Mock Mehndi as President of HCPSA.

Harvard College students sitting down at round tables in a room decorated with vibrant orange, pink and yellow Pakistani decorations at event ran by Hana Rehman.
Harvard College students sitting in a room decorated with vibrant orange, pink and yellow Pakistani decorations. 

The anticipation leading up to the event was contagious, with everyone both in and outside of the Pakistani community counting down the days until the event. From selecting the venue to curating the playlist with the perfect desi beats, the entire HCPSA team worked tirelessly to ensure that every aspect of Mock Mehndi was carefully planned to capture the essence of a mehndi ceremony.

A couch decorated with bright pillows with a backdrop placed behind it by the Harvard College Pakistani Students Association, led by Hana Rehman..
A couch decorated with bright pillows and a backdrop placed behind it. 

As guests arrived, they were greeted with vibrant decorations adorning the venue, setting the stage for an unforgettable evening. The excitement heightened as the bride and groom made their grand entrances, accompanied by cheers and applause from the crowd. The atmosphere continued to buzz with joy as the bride and groom’s friends performed dances, each showcasing unique cultural sides of Pakistan through choreography and song choices.

The "Bride's Side" performing dances at Mock Mehndi, event ran by Hana Rehman.
The "Bride's Side" performing a dance at Mock Mehndi. 

Following some performances, the much anticipated shoe-stealing ceremony, a playful tradition known as Jhoota Chupai, added a hilarious twist to the festivities. Typically, the members of the bride's side of the family would “steal” the groom's shoe and then the two sides engage in light-hearted banter as they negotiate the terms by which the shoe will be returned, usually the bride's side receives some sort of monetary gain. For HCPSA’s mock mehndi, we added a twist to the game. We asked the guests to donate a dollar or two in order to return the shoe to the groom. Once we reached $50, we would return the shoe. The night of the event, we raised almost four hundred dollars! Later, we donated the money to support the establishment of a well in rural Pakistan. 

An executive member of the club, Laiba Khan, holds a shoe during the Jhoota Chupai tradition.
An executive member of the club holds a shoe during the Jhoota Chupai tradition.

As the evening progressed, heartfelt toasts and comedic roasts added a personal touch to the celebration, highlighting the friendship that united everyone in the room. Laughter filled the air as jokes brought smiles to the faces of attendees.

Students enjoy their time at Mock Mehndi watching several performances throughout the night.
Students enjoy their time at Mock Mehndi watching several performances throughout the night. 

With the formalities concluded, guests were treated to dinner, featuring an array of Pakistani meals. From chicken biryani to nihari, there was something to satisfy everyone. As guests savored each bite, laughter and conversation filled the air. 

Amidst the festivities, the mehndi station drew a crowd, with guests eagerly waiting their turn to adorn their hands with henna designs. 

A mehndi artist applies intricate designs using henna as students wait in line for their turn.
A mehndi artist applies intricate designs using henna as students wait in line for their turn.

The open dance floor beckoned guests to dance the night away to Pakistani and Bollywood hits.

The mock groom is dancing in the open dance floor segment of the event with everyone cheering around him.
The mock groom is dancing in the open dance floor segment of the event with everyone cheering around him. 

As Mock Mehndi drew to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on the impact of the evening. Through dance, music and shared traditions, the Pakistani community was able to share the parts of their culture they love the most and forge connections with those in attendance.

Harvard Undergraduate Bhangra performs at Mock Mehndi.
Harvard Undergraduate Bhangra performing at Mock Mehndi. 

None of this would be possible without the amazing executive team of around twenty students who came early at 8 a.m. and spent all day decorating, picking up food and making sure everything was set for the big night. After the event was completed, the executive board stayed for a few hours to clean up the venue and concluded the night with a Pinnochio’s Pizza run in Harvard Square.

Hana Rehman standing with the HCPSA Board.
The Harvard College Pakistani Students Association board members stand proudly at the end of the event.

Without a doubt, this will be an event we continue to host each year. The spirit of the event was a testament to the enduring power of culture to inspire, unite and uplift us, leaving each guest with a lasting impression. This is an event you wouldn't want to miss!

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  • Student Activities
  • Student Life

Hana Rehman Class of '25

Hi everyone! My name is Hana and I am a senior studying the History of Science and Government with a citation in French.

Hana Rehman Portrait