By: Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI – Worn by Muslim women, Burqa or veil is now becoming a fashion statement in India, with more young Indian Muslims preferring face-veils that are made fancy or ornate through embroidery, designs and decorative works.
“With times even burqa is changing its color and design. More and more girls and women are demanding colorful and fashionable veils from us,” Rizwan Khan, owner of Rizwan Burqa House, a major veil shop in central India, told OnIslam.net.
“We have to keep pace with demand; otherwise we may be out of business. We are also experimenting by designing new styles.
“Earlier, we used to sell only black burqas but now we have to keep all the colors,” she added.
Burqa or niqab is a face-veil worn traditionally by Muslim women as a sign of modesty and in accordance with the teachings from the Qur’an.
In India, these garments are now coming in different colors and styles to draw the attention of others, rather than to hide them from people’s eyes.
Shimala is just 19-year-old and loves to wear veil.
“I think burqa now-a-days is a fashion statement and people no longer treat you as oppressed,” she told OnIslam.net.
“My non-Muslim friends give me compliment about my veil. I enjoy wearing it.”
The numbers of women opting for the traditional black veils have come down significantly. Veils that are made fancy or ornate through embroidery, designs and decorative works are preferred and are being produced at many places in India.
Nowadays, an ordinary black veil could cost anywhere between Rs 550 and 800 (US$9 to 13), but the price for a designer one will depend on the work done on the cloth.
Some prefer less designer work, while some others prefer to wear veil with heavy designer work for special occasions like marriage and other functions. Sometimes work is so heavy on these burqas that it could be more than a designer dress.
“We have been successful in increasing our business with these designer burqas. Even our profit margin has gone up,” another burqa maker, Izhar Khan, said.
Number of women opting for burqa has suddenly shot up in the last few years, due to increase in cases of sexual harassment against girls and women in India.
“Apart from being a Muslim attire, it also saves you from harassment by men in public places, which is very common in India now-a-days,” 28-year-old Farah, who is thinking about wearing burqa, told OnIslam.net.
“If you are wearing a “burqa”, a man thinks twice before making any comment or advances.”
Over the past years, veil is becoming popular among young girls to save them from the gazing eyes of men in India.
“It’s no longer a forced-upon thing for Muslim girls. Even those who were opposed to it earlier are now enjoying wearing veils,” said another student Iram Shah to Onislam.net.
“I believe it’s a part of our culture and there is no harm in making certain changes to suit our looks. We could wear black or any other color with certain designs and embroidery.”
22-year-old Fatima says that black color is something which shows a woman as oppressed and something being forced on her. But if you are wearing a colorful and stylish one, people don’t think like that.
Muslim girls want more and more designer work in their “burqa”, so that it may look more attractive and trendy.
“I have been designing burqas for years, but never seen such a change like we are witnessing today,” Azmat Khan, a local burqa maker in his late sixties in the city of Bhopal, told OnIslam.net.
“I understand that after design and so much decoration, burqa no longer remains a burqa.
“But this is something we have to do. Otherwise, who is going to come to us for work?”
However, there are many who believe that this new trend is defeating the very purpose of wearing burqa.
“Muslim women should wear burqa to hide them from the gazing eyes of men and to show modesty. But by wearing designer burqas, they come in the eyes of men,” said Rafat Anjum, a Muslim woman in her late fifties, who has been wearing burqa since her childhood.
She further said that it is one of the best clothes, which could save one from evil eyes of men and even give respect to women in public places.
“I think wearing something which will bring you more in the eyes of men is against the spirit of Islam,” Anjum said.
“These girls are making fun of Muslim attire,” she added.