Friday, January 21, 2011

Costume of Kerala

Costumes of Kerala evidence the innate simplicity of the lifestyle of the Malayali people. the people from 'God's country', both men and women, are mostely seen dressed in off-white and white attires. The principal dress which the people of Kerala wear is largely traditional in nature. The traditional form of dress worn by the keralites is Mundu and Neriyathu for both men and women. The women also wear 'sari' and jacket.

The traditional garment worn by the women of kerala is the 'mundum neriyathum'. the conventional piece is the 'mundu' which is the lower garment and it consists of two cloth pieces. The 'mundu' around the hips and beneath the navel. This hand-woven cloth made of cotton, is very comfortable to wear in the summer season. The cloth is creamy or white in color and possesses a colored strip called border or 'Kara'. the women of kerala wear mundu in this way except for the women of Christian origin. For them, the mundu is folded up in multiple folds and this part is hung at the back. Over the mundu, women take on a special type of blouse, covering the navel.

The 'neriyathu' is the name of the upper garment which is put over the blouse having one of its ends inserted in the mundu and the other long end worn over the front torso. this is worn in a diagonal way, from the right hips to the left shoulder looking like a saree. both the neriyathu and mundu is stiffened and then worn with a blouse matching the bordes or kara's color. This costume is worn every day and in the festive seasons people wear the same but with an ornamental 'kara' or a border which is either copper coated, golden or artificial colored with temple or peacock design. the color of the blouse is decided by the marital status and age of the women. unmarried young keralite girls take on green  blouse. At the time of the celebration of the famous of Onam, women belonging to different age groups wear it and participate in the folk dance known as 'Kaikotti Kali Dance'.

the women belonging to the muslim community in kerala, more particularly in the northern and central regions of kerala, take on a long dark black or blue garment along with purdah and also cover up their abundant and long hair with beautiful kerchief.

The mundum neriyathum was the traditional costume of the kerala. But today, it has become an old fashion and is mostly worn by the old women of the state. Nowadays, it is being taken over by the set-sari which has become the dress of the Keralite women as a quasi mundum neriyathum and today as the kerala sari. Nowadays, they are mostly seen attired in sari and blouse.

Costume Worn By Men of Kerala

The men are conservative than the women. In keeping with the old traditional of Kerala they wear white, which was once universal for both sexes. Their main garment is the long cloth called mundu, which is tucked at the waist and reached to the ankle, giving its wearer a peculiar mincing walk, unless, to stride more freely, he kilts it to the knees. Many men wear no garment above the waist, but those who belong to the higher castes at least drape a towel-like cloth over the shoulders, and if they consider themselves modern they wear shirt which, like the mundu, are always washed to a dazzling whiteness. The garb is worn by men of all religions and all classes, except for the small westernized minority who have gone over to bush shirt and cotton slacks. the poor people of Kerala live simply from necessity, but their wealthier compatriots make simplicity a cult, so that among Malayalis one rarely sees the ostentation which in northern India is almost regarded as a duty of the rich. The local traditions set a value on eating sparingly and doing without elaborate furniture; one may wear fine rather than coarse cotton, but one does not wear silk.

The traditional wear of the Hindu men residing in the state of Kerala is Kasavu Mundu. This dress is very much popular in the rural or remote areas. This attire is a piece of cloth made of cotton, three to four meter long having a silk border. Lungy or Kaily acts as an informal dress for Keralite men. But while moving out of their house, these men take on a shirt and mundu as well as a neriyathu over their shoulder and apply a paste of sandal on their chest and brows which provides them a much dignified appearance and a royal look.

The Keralite Muslim wear the same but they just wear an additional cap over their head. The Muslim style of wearing mundu is somewhat dissimilar to that of the Christian and Hindu Keralites.

Daily wear of the people of Kerala

The daily use garments for the people of Kerala are saris and churidar or salwar-kameez for women and for men, trousers and shirts. The western type of dressing is also well-known among the generation of the young.

With continuous change in designing and fashion, the dress codes of the Keralites have changed considerably. The traditional form of dressing is reserved for special occasions and the women and men of today's Kerala are seen wearing a range of dresses. The people of this state have accepted the northern mode of dressing with wearing trousers and tea-shirts which is a comfortable item for travel and their female counterparts have accepted the churidar of north Indian style.


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