Royal Wedding DIY Beauty: Memoirs of Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur

Royal Wedding DIY Beauty: Memoirs of Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur

Maharani Gaytri Devi

Regardless of what you thought of the royal wedding, the Bishop's sermon, Harry's lovestruck looks or that Givenchy wedding dress, the one incontestable truth of the day was Meghan Markle's glowing skin - AND how incredibly comfortable she looked in it.

To emanate goddess-like radiance while also appearing uncontrived, relaxed and genuinely happy is presumably every bride's quest, but the Indian bride is equipped with an entire pre-wedding ceremony to achieve it! Referred to as the  "Haldi" [which means Turmeric in Hindi], this body mask plus massage ceremony is expressly designed to achieve radiant, glowing skin while also letting the bride chill out with her besties before she gets hitched. 

As it is with many incredible Indian beauty traditions, this one began with Indian royalty and was succinctly described by the third Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, in her book “A Princess Remembers – The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur”, where she (rather matter-of-factly) states:

“Three days before the marriage ceremony, I had to make the correct preparations. I had to bathe in perfumed oils and rub my skin with turmeric paste to make it more beautiful. I had to perform the prescribed devotions and prayers and after that to fast for the last twenty-four hours.”

Known for her classical beauty and proclaimed by Vogue to be one of the ten most beautiful women in the world at the time, Gayatri Devi had pearly, luminous skin, which was one of the first things one noticed about her. She, however, didn't regard it to be extraordinary in any way. When asked in an interview if she was aware of the impact her beauty had on people, she simply said “I was totally unconscious of that.”

Maharani Gayatri Devi, the last Maharani of Jaipur

Royal Pre-Nuptial Beauty Traditions

Gayatri Devi, the Princess of Cooch Behar, married Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur 70 years ago, on May 9, 1940, at the age of twenty-one, having been in love with him since she was twelve years old.

Maharani Gayatri Devi and Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II as newly weds

Some of the royal beauty traditions she mentions are described in detail by Sharada Dwivedi and Shalini Devi Holkar in their book Almond Eyes Lotus Feet where they explain that the royal bride-to-be was massaged with an elaborate unguent of sweet almond oil, ground almonds, powdered sandalwood, turmeric, a pinch of saffron, and a few drops of rose essence. Turmeric powder is antiseptic and cleansing and the combination of turmeric, sandalwood and saffron gently exfoliates skin to soft, smooth radiance.

Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur

The bride-to-be typically wore yellow (to camouflage tumeric stains!) and was surrounded by a harem of women who rubbed the herbal oil paste on her body, feet, hands, cheeks and head, in that order, from bottom to top. The day before the royal wedding, the order was reversed, and the turmeric paste rubbed downwards from the head. 

Royals vs. the Rest

While non-royal prospective Indian brides also perform this ceremony to this very day, it occurs just once before the wedding - far less indulgent than the three to seven consecutive days of herbal massages the future royal bride experienced in her time. The wonderful natural ingredients render the bride as soft-skinned and radiant as possible and after a few consecutive days of this treatment the body emanates the natural fragrances of sandalwood, saffron and rose. 

Get the Royal Glow

So, if you're inspired by Meghan's glow and ready for some serious DIY pampering, below is a decadent version of the Indian royal bridal body scrub and mask. Let the paste dry on your skin completely before rinsing off with a non-drying wash.


  1. 1 teaspoon of Turmeric [beware of yellow stains, which will eventually wash off your skin but not your clothes!]
  2. 2 cups crushed Almonds or crystallized Sugar [white or brown]
  3. As much cold-pressed Sweet Almond or Coconut oil as is needed to get to the consistency of a scrub – if you have dry skin, feel free to be liberal with the oil
  4. 1 teaspoon powdered Sandalwood
  5. 1 pinch Saffron
  6. 2 tablespoons of Rose Water

Mix all the above ingredients into the thick, gritty consistency of a body scrub. Scoop it out and gently scrub your body, massaging your skin thoroughly with the oily mixture. Leave it on until it dries and for a minimum of 10 minutes. Rinse off with a mild, sulfate free wash...we love ours, the Vegan, Sustainably-sourced Lime Vetiver Body and Hand Wash. It's rich in essential oils and made in England, just like Harry ;-)

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Time to get glowing!  



Tejal Ramnathkar Engman is the co-founder of Malavara. Having left India at 17, she has come full circle to her herb-mixing granny's Ayurvedic beauty traditions. Tejal lives in Washington, DC, and her new year's resolution is to squeeze more hot yoga into a schedule that is currently consumed by a rambunctious 4-year-old, a day job in real estate, and her passion, Malavara.

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