Kerala – Land of simplicity and elegance
Being Malayalee is all about possessing charisma, having the right attitude, and most importantly, being proud of one’s roots. There was a time when Malayalees considered it fashionable not speaking Malayalam, discarding traditional attire and latching on to anything alien in culture. But with trends and designs going global, and the increasing need to retain one’s cultural identity, there has come about a paradigm shift in the modern Malayalee attitude and outlook towards the concept of fashion.
The Malayalam taste for fashion has been influenced by the history, geography, climate, culture, cuisine, and lifestyle of the people of Kerala. Malayalees’ preference for simplicity and practicality is manifested in manifold ways – the way they dress, the type of their dwelling, the food they eat, the manner of their living, their outlook towards life and so on.
That Keralites have an affinity for purity is seen in their traditional attire colored white and off-white, a favourite with men as well as women. The costumes of Kerala are directly linked to the state’s climate, culture and way of life. The main dress worn by the majority of the people especially among the older generation is traditional in nature – the ‘mundum neriyathum’ among women and the ‘mundu’ with a mini version called ‘utthareeyam’ or a towel thrown or draped over the shoulder. These costumes are extant, indigenized forms of the conventional saree and dhoti worn by the women and men of the country.
This simple traditional attire constitutes the daily wear of the people and is most suited for the climate and region. During festive occasions, this everyday wear gets transformed to a grander version, with an ornamental ‘kara’ or golden border with or without embroidered embellishments. Men and women of all age groups wear the mundu and set mundu or set saree on festival days, at weddings and other important occasions. One striking feature of this Kerala costume is that it suits all types of wearers, irrespective of age, complexion or physical attributes.
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