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Hijab is Back in Mumbai
Hijab is increasingly being seen as an ideal costume
And a social leveller by Mumbai girls

M. H. Lakdawala in Mumbai

FROM parental pressure to peer pressure to self-choice Pardah, Hijab or Burqa has come full circle. There was a time when everybody seemed to be shouting, 'Off with the purdah and hijab'. The dominant voices belonged to women, the majority of whom were forced to follow the custom or were forced to wear it due to parental pressure.

In Mumbai a bunch of teenagers thinks that the hijab is the ideal costume when any girl has to go outside. And mind you it is not because of the in-house training that they say it. It's simply because the hijab has its own advantages. "One would think that this confined, restricted or even held the wearer, prisoner. Those summers are particularly hot when you wear a hijab. Eve-teasing is not a new concept and most certainly, every girl at some point in time has been victim to it. That's where the hijab comes to the rescue," says Unaiza a third year student of Maharashtra College. Abida Khan of Rizvi college of Architecture initially hated wearing hijab. Fear of her elder brother made her wear it. "I used to remove It as soon I reached the bus stop. But gradually I felt more comfortable in it as it protected me from the lustful glances".

Hijab is such an overall that it obviates the need for dressing up a new everyday. Besides it is a great social leveller. No one bothers whether the dress beneath is worth Rs. Ten thousand or just a few hundreds

Zeenat Baig, a Management student is the only Muslim in her class. Her classmates used to tease her as orthodox. When she explained its advantages their attitude towards her changed completely. "In fact my friends from other communities have stopped wearing tight and revealing dresses. Most of my classmates now prefer wearing dupatta", said Zeenat. "I see that most men are very courteous to women in hijab. And frankly, given an option I would love to wear one, only so that I can walk on the street without having to worry about eve-teasers, says Kavita, classmate and friend of Zeenat. Teens are always there to make fashion statements. And you never tire of it.

"The veil has connotations that ward off male attention. It signifies a certain sense of security, maybe the girls father or brother is around. Is a thought that would come to mind," says Tabbassum of Tibbia Unani Medical college. It's interesting to see how men make way for those in hijab. A hijab clad woman would automatically be given respect wherever she goes. Black signifies mystery in almost all languages, the hijab sends out that message.

Neha Shaikh, Final year student of MBBS got married last year. She wears burqha inspite of her husband, a businessman, not liking it. "I feel very uncomfortable without hijab. I hate people who keep on staring at you. Its so disgusting", said Neha. As a compromise with her Husband, Abid whenever she goes out with him, Neha wears a loose shawl which matches her dress.

Many college girls these days opt for it as hijab can be a boon. An answer to the girl who has to face the street Romeos. "It's pure psychology. If a man cannot see the face, he would not risk making a pass, just in case the seemingly delicate girl turns out to be an old lady his nightmare would come alive," says Yasmin Sayed of Burhani College. Age and your body language speaks sooner than you think. A girl's physique will show how physically vulnerable she can be. But thanks to the hijab a man never pushes his luck there.

Shahnaz, Farhana, Nahid, Reshma and Rabia all are doing post graduation from Mumbai University and all of them love to wear hijab. "Beside the safety aspect, the hijab can also reduce the difference between the haves and the have-nots. Who can tell that the dress beneath is worth ten thousand or a mere hundred? Says Shahnaz." Not to mention the fact that your clothes don't get dirty and no one can tell how many times you have repeated your favourite dress," says Rabia.

Farhana prefers burqa as it covers the person from head to toe, away from the ultra-violet rays of the sun. "This is the perfect solution to pollution and tanning . No more greasy or ineffective sun-screens," she said.

There's always something great about experimenting with new and mundane things. Pardah which traditionally is, considered a taboo is becoming fashion statement for the growing generation.