A Khoja bride’s journey in 1930s Kenya

Author Sultan Somjee in Canada. He has written the book ‘Bead Bai,’ the first in a planned trilogy. Left: The cover of the book ‘Bead Bai.’ Photo/ZERA SOMJEE

What you need to know:

  • Khoja tradition required that at marriage, the bride be dressed in the bandhani, a silk tie-and-dye shawl with a heavy embroidered border. Then at death, the other rite of passage, the marriage bandhani would cover the woman like she was a bride again leaving home in a shine to meet the Lord.

You look at the cover of Kenyan ethnographer and writer Sultan Somjee’s Bead Bai with a kind of reverence that is reserved for the Mona Lisa or works by the old masters.


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