South India  |  Costumes of Kerala

Costumes of Kerala

Kerala's people are very simple, and this innate simplicity is reflected in their costumes. The traditional costumes of Kerala are simple and decent. Women of Kerala are not loaded with make-up. Mundu and neriathu are the traditional dresses for both men and women of Kerala. Saree and blouse is another popular traditional costume for the women of Kerala. The mundu forms the lower garment, while neriyathu is the upper garment. The mundu is worn
around the hips, below the navel. This hand-woven cotton cloth is very comfortable during the summer. It is generally cream or white in colour with the coloured border or kara. The traditional attire for men is Kasavu Mundu. It is more popular in the rural areas. It is 3-4 meter long cotton twin cloth with the silk border. Kaily or lungy is the informal dress for men.While going outdoors, the men wear shirt and mundu along with a small neriyathu on the shoulder.
They apply the sandal paste on their brows and chest. It endows them with a dignified look. The Muslims wear a cap in addition. The style of the Muslims wearing mundu is quite different from that of the Hindus and Christian Keralites. The Christian women fold the mundu in the fan-like multiple folds and hang at the back. The women wear a special type of blouse on the top of the mundu. The blouse covers the navel. The neriyathu is worn over the blouse and
its one end is tucked inside the mundu, and the other long end is worn across the front torso. It resembles the sari. The mundu and neriyathu are starched and the blouse that matches the colour of the border is worn.Mudu, neriyathu and saree are integral parts of the costumes of Kerala. On the special occasions and festivals, it has an ornamental kara with copper, golden coated or artificial coloured designs of peacock or temple.The colour of the blouse is associated with age and marital status of the woman. Unmarried, young girls wear the green blouse while the red blouse is worn by the married women.
Like everything, the costumes of Kerala are also undergoing a change. Now-a-days, this traditional costume of mundum-neriathum is being replaced by the set-sari among women. The set-sari is similar to mundum-neriyathum, the only difference being that it is a single piece of cloth. Today this set-sari is worn on the occasions like Kerala Day or Onam. With the changing trends in fashion, the dress code has remarkably changed. The Keralite men are seen in the modern T-shirts, and trousers or jeans. The women also prefer to wear the churidar kurta as well as jeans-top. These traditional and elegant costumes are slowly yielding space to modern trends. Kerala is becoming more trendy, but at the same time, losing some of its class.