From creators to bloggers, these Bohra women are taking social media by storm
A bunch of Bohra women harness the power of social media to ace their careers, clad in their colourful traditional wear
After an adrenaline-charged skydive from 15,000 feet in the USA, everyone around Arwa Merchant was in awe, not because of her daring performance, but for her insistence on doing so in the rida. She wrote about this in a blog post for Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom in October 2019.
The rida is the traditional attire of the women of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a sub-sect of the Shiite Muslims. The two-piece dress is distinguishable from other forms of the hijab by its bright colours, decorative patterns and lace. With their roots in Gujarat, the members of this peace-loving trading community follow the teachings of their spiritual leader Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. Although embedded in a tradition dating back to more than 1,400 years, this two million-strong Dawoodi Bohras in India have never been shy to embrace the latest technologies. They even have celebrated festivals like Eid and Shab-E-Baraat online due to the pandemic.
Not one to fall behind, the women of the community have taken social media platforms by storm. From content creators to food bloggers to creating clothing brands, they have managed to expand their careers online, but without giving up their rida.
Mariya Kanchwala, 31
Makeup artist and beauty influencer, Indore
Instagram: 28,000 followers
Kanchwala has carved a niche for herself in the glamour industry by showcasing her makeup skills while wearing her rida. After a brief stint as a public relations executive for a fashion brand, she turned her full attention to makeup. She started posting on Instagram in 2017 as a food blogger, but 2020 made her realise her passion for makeup and she began posting beauty looks on Instagram. In the past year, she has started working on beauty and looks projects for weddings and shoots for makeup.
Rashida Jawadwala, 20
Content creator, Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh
Instagram: 32,700 followers
Known online as GirlInRida, Jawadwala started posting comic content on Instagram while pursuing her degree in Computer Engineering from Indore in September 2020. And the follower count went up to 32,000 in a year. Jawadwala has brand deals from companies such as VLCC, Urban Clap and Dresscode. Also, offers came her way for anchoring TV and stage shows, but she declined them to focus on her studies.
Arwa Zakir, 25
Fitness expert, GoFit Studio, Salmiya, Kuwait
Instagram: 4,200 followers
Also known as GoFit Arwa on Instagram and YouTube, Zakir is a certified trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine and owns the GoFit Studio fitness centre in Salmiya, Kuwait, where she trains people of all ages and genders. Her parents are originally from Sagwara, Rajasthan, and until she turned 16 she never paid heed to her health and was an obese child. Today, she posts content around health and workouts on Instagram. Even though some people initially mocked Zakir for posting content in the rida, she never let negativity come in the way of her passion. Zakir believes that social media is the best place for small business owners to grow and for creative people to showcase their talent.
Rabab J Ghadiali, 35
Founder, Rabab Life Coaching and Counselling, Mumbai
Instagram: 19,000 followers
LinkedIn: 5,000 followers
YouTube: 700 subscribers
(over 10,000 views)
Winner of the 2019 Women Icon of the Year Award in the field of coaching and the Best Life Coach of the Year Award, Ghadiali conducts workshops and seminars on motivation, personality development, life skills, etc—both online and offline—along with personal therapy sessions. Born in Tanzania, but working in Mumbai for the past 17 years, she has a master’s in Counselling Psychology along with a Life Coaching Certification from the International Learning Centre, Manchester, the UK. Ghadiali started posting videos and content on Instagram and Linkedin in 2015 when she found a lot of misinformation being circulated about mental health. It helped her grow from 2,000 to 19,000 followers on Instagram, which helped her garner many clients as well.