The wedding dresser

Sithy Muhsin was the only dresser of Muslim brides in Galle during the sixties. Also a teacher, she talks about her impressions of the advent of the abaya or burqa in Sri Lankan Muslim society. Photography by Kannan Arunasalam.


Join the discussion: 4 comments

  • Kannan Arunasalam says:

    Sithy welcomed me into house in the Galle Fort where she lives with her daughter. Her granddaughter was visiting from America and so I met three generations of the family’s women. Fashionable, fun loving and candid, Sithy Muhsin is different. There’s a joie de vivre about her approach to life.

    Sithy talked about her talent for hairstyles and make up that made her popular in Galle as a bridal dresser in the 60s and until the death of her husband. After that, her daughter took over and has built up a successful business dressing Muslim brides on their big day.

    Our conversation naturally led to talking about trends in dress among Muslim women. Sithy was unsure about the move among younger women of wearing the burqa or abaya, a style uncommon in her day. So after their special day on the throne, these brides would conceal their faces from everyone, but their husbands.

    The next day Sithy took me along to a recital of her Muslim ladies group of which she is an active member. I asked permission to record the beautiful verses recited by one younger member of the group. The ladies made me feel comfortable being there, but I couldn’t help thinking I was being introduced to a world usually behind closed doors.

  • Akheel Muhsin says:

    Dear Sithy Aunty, Now that’s what I call taking a stand! Proud of you. Akheel

  • Souad says:

    Proud of you Ummamma


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