Interview with Saltanat Bora, Founder of The Modest Bride

Today’s blog post is an exclusive interview with the lovely and talented Saltanat Bora, founder of The Modest Bride. modestbride1Tell me about the ethos behind The Modest Bride.

The ethos behind the blog revolves around the concept of ‘modesty’ and what this entails, not just in the world of weddings, but in life as well. To me, modesty is more than just a ‘style’ or ‘look’. It dictates how one speaks, acts and lives. It’s a holistic ideal that informs one’s lifestyle choices, beyond what one decides to wear. Whilst dressing with humility is important, modesty is also about living a life conscious of the impacts of our choices regarding what we eat, how we consume and how we choose to celebrate, amongst many other things.

Of course, all of this stems from the religion I choose to follow, that is, Islam. Modesty, or ‘haya’, is core to the religion. Modesty in front of one’s Creator should be the driving force in striving to live a life of humility, honesty, and a deeper consciousness of how we live.

What inspired you to start it?

It was frustration more than anything that pushed me to start the Instagram page, and later the blog. Having been married myself and gone through the nightmare that is planning a wedding, and seeing many others around me go through the same, made me realise that the way we took on certain (western) cultural expectations of what a wedding should (or shouldn’t) be, was entirely against what I struggled for as a Muslim. Community expectation that weddings should be elaborate and really, beyond an average person’s means to afford, seemed wholly unfair and unjust. I was fed up with the same old ‘big hall’ weddings, dripping in flowers, for hundreds of people the bride/groom didn’t even know, and also, the big, over the top, anything but modest, wedding dresses that (Hijabi) brides were wearing. I knew that something had to change.

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Who is your target audience?

Although a lot of what informs my blog, my direction and my ethos is from Islam, my target audience is not necessarily for the Muslim. I believe that my love for a minimalist aesthetic and an eco-friendly, fair-trade, organic lifestyle would resonate with a much wider audience. I was right! A lot of my followers are non-Muslim. I also don’t think that ‘modesty’ is a value unique to Muslims.

What do you hope to achieve from your blog?

My ultimate aim would be to see more and more people be inspired by the blog, and have the courage to do things differently to the norm. For people to understand that their choices have consequences on the world, other people and the environment. That simply because they are getting married, does not mean that all our values regarding modesty and humility suddenly get left at the door. In fact, it is more pertinent that on that “big day” we maintain and uphold these values because it is an important step in our lives. It should be crucial that we take this step in the right way so that it ensures, to the best of our ability, that things start off in the most blessed, joyful, correct manner.

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If there was one thing you want young women and men to take away from your blog, what would it be?

Don’t compromise on your values just because there is a societal expectation to do things a certain way!

What would be your ‘ideal wedding’?

The ideal wedding for me is a small, intimate celebration with the bride and groom’s closest family and friends at a beautiful garden location, maybe even a backyard! Home made (organically sourced) food that’s not too fussy, DIY elements such as a photograph garland of the bride and groom, their family and friends etc. Big lanterns in clusters to set the mood, locally sourced flowers in an eclectic array of vases, lace tablecloths, a yummy “naked” cake-see blog for clarification 😉 – and lots and lots of love and joy in an easy, comfortable atmosphere.

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My poem, Immigration, selected for publication at the IMA! @caitsmeissner #islamicmuseumaustralia

1209718_writingI’m thrilled to announce that my poem, Immigration, will be exhibited at the Islamic Museum of Australia from Oct 10th to Jan 10th 🙂 I’m even more excited that my youngest sister’s poem will also be exhibited 🙂 Go Aisyah!

My deepest thanks and gratitude goes to the talented Caits Meissner, who so lovingly nurtured my sister and me, along with our poems. Caits, you are my poetic personal trainer.

The IMA’s opening night function will be on Friday 10th October, at 7 pm. If you’re able to, please do head down and celebrate the beauty produced by various Australian Muslim artists. In a world splintering at the edges, it helps to be reminded of the constancy and presence of the Divine, threaded through our lives and artwork. There is still so much beauty in this world, living alongside the pain.

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National Geographic photo contest open for 4 more days!

Calling all photography enthusiasts! National Geographic’s photo contest is open up til June 30. Entry fee is US $15. Official categories include Travel Portraits; Sense of Place; Outdoor Scenes and Spontaneous Moments.

As much as I am a lover of words, beautiful images sink right into the soul – no words needed.

I have many fond memories of flipping through National Geographic magazines as a child.  My father would bring them home and I’d devour them, marvelling at the stunning photographs from all over the world. I was intrigued by places very foreign to me, like the Arctic, or the dense jungles of the Amazon. Imagine the life of a National Geographic photojournalist! Lots of travel, adventure, and jumping timezones. A girl can dream 🙂

Click on this Atlantic article for a breathtaking glimpse at some of this year’s entries. Gorgeous!

My upcoming spoken word performance on Saturday night

10406820_782761278421335_1546002526403073306_nI’m thrilled to be part of a “nasheed: light the night” event this Saturday night, 8:30 pm at Talent Lounge. The theme of the night has to do with preparing for Ramadan. Thank you, all the organisers, for including me in this awesome line-up.

I’ll be performing at least one spoken word poem during the event. Please come down for some spiritual rejuvenation, and bring your loved ones!

 

My first published poems are up!

Screen-Shot-2014-03-04-at-5.34.43-PM-165x200I’m thrilled to share that my first set of published poems are up!

Please scroll down Cait Meissner’s website and download the free course anthology titled “Armed Only With Our Souls”. Thank you Caits and the lovely ladies of the April Digging Deep, Facing Self group – I am honoured to have tread that path of creative expression and healing with you.

To any woman who is on the precipice of change but feels stuck…I urge you to sign up, do the hard growth work, and marvel at the outcome.

My debut spoken word performance! @caitsmeissner @markgonzales @barakablue

spokenword1The universe has order.

Last night, through a series of unexpected events, I ended up performing during a gig with Baraka Blue and other local Malaysian artists.

When I first stood at the microphone, I had DRAGONS in my stomach (forget butterflies). By the time the local artists and Baraka Blue himself performed, I was alight with creative energy, and ended up closing the event with a poem I wrote only hours before hand, during my poetry workshop with Baraka Blue.

Overall, it was incredible. There is something so magical about performing in the same gig with one my writing mentors. Maktub: it is written.

I performed three of my poems (Bone Marrow, Elder and Nenek), and I’m thrilled to report that I’ve been asked – very vociferously – to join the local poetry slam scene. Last week, I didn’t even know where to look. I’m working on uploading my performances. Stay tuned!

I’d like to thank Jamal Raslan and the Crescent Collective team for making this all possible. Also, special thanks goes to the brilliant spoken word artists who continue to inspire me: Caits Meissner, Mark Gonzales, and of course, Baraka Blue!