What’s your perception when you see women dressed in Black Abaya?
In Kuwait, traditionally & culturally, the clothing for women is the Black Abaya, while men wore the Dishdasha or Kandoura. For men, the color of Dishdasha ranges from beige, gray, off- white, white and during winter, they wear the Black ones. Now,there is a simple explanation while Black is the choice for color or this type of clothing for Muslim women here. It’s not because Black is a fashionable color,although I personally agree on this, but rather simply that it is most concealing. The sun is the most brightest here in middle east. It shines so bright and the heat is real and struggle.You cannot wear thick clothes in the summer and so many layers is also a no-no, rather you need something to cover your skin from burning at the same time for your skin to breathe.The Abaya or also known as cloak covers your whole body from your arms up to your legs and thus giving you ultimate protection from harmful rays of the sun.
The color black relates to the hidden, the secretive and the unknown, and as a result it creates an air of mystery. It keeps things bottled up inside, hidden from the world.In color psychology this color gives protection from external emotional stress.Wearing this black cloak relieves you from unwanted attention from lustful eyes and gives you a sense of protection.This is the whole concept of Muslim modesty. Women wear the black Abaya that totally disclose everything underneath.
If you knew the controversial photo of the late Princess Diana before about the see-through skirt that evokes too much attention then this is the absolute reason why white is not appropriate color chosen for Abayas here in the Middle East.
Now on the daily life of Muslim women here in Kuwait, wearing Black Abaya is more of a functional way, It is more than a culture behind the cloth. It is easy to put on, you don’t even know what they wear underneath. Some even wear their pyjamas or casual clothes. If you are a busy mom, then Abaya comes handy like rushing to get the kids to school, going into the grocery shop or even just a quick run down to the Bakala across the street. This saves so much time in putting on decent clothes. I have tried wearing the Abaya on certain occasion when we entered the Mosque and it was a great privilege at the same time experience. I have great respect for this culture.
The origin of Abaya can be traced immemorial. Since the ancient times, people who are nomads in the Desert are wearing cloak type garments that protects them from the arid climate, strong winds & freezing cold desert winter.Through times, the style & evolution of Abaya in Fashion becomes a worldwide statement for the Arabic nation. Nowadays, Abayas are available with stylish embroidery, some even with Swarovski crystals, and tailor-made for the owner. In Kuwait alone, there are hundreds of shops particularly only for fashionable Abayas and its accessories. With this country’s ever – changing lifestyle, wearing the Abaya has become a Fashion statement for women together with their Arabic Oud perfumes, stilletos and luxury handbags.
How about you? What particular cultural aspects in Islam do you appreciate? Or have you ever tried trying out foreign and local customs from your country?
How was your experience?