Traditional Dresses of Kerala - Kerala Costumes and Traditional Wear

The traditional wear of the state is called 'Mundu' which is worn on the lower portion of the body, from the waist to the foot. It is white and is worn by both men and women. It resembles a long skirt or a dhoti. The upper garment varies with gender and age. This dress is worn in Kerala, Tulunadu region and Maldive islands. Muslim women on the other hand sometimes prefer the black or blue purdah, while traditional Christian women wear a two-piece blouse and a pleated "Mundu".

When you visit Kerala, you'll see men and women wearing completely white attires. It depicts purity and elegance.  Their warm nature, amicable behaviour and simplicity in living welcomes all from around the world.

Dresses Of Kerala
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Traditional Kerala Dress of Men - Mundu or Lungi 

The lower garment Mundu is a white cloth wrapped around the waist. It has a border called Kara which can be of any colour, mostly golden. Kara renders a style to the Mundu by displaying it on the left or right side of the person. Kara can be embroidered or decorated with ornaments for special occasions. Mundu can be turned into a half skirt kind of a thing by tucking the lower end into the waist. Men prefer to do this while doing any physical activities. The upper garment is called 'Melmundu' which is worn like a towel on the shoulders. The white shirt is also worn by many men these days. 

In Hindus, men wear a Mundu and a Jubba for special occasions. It can be made of silk and Kara is often embroidered. Muslim men wear a cap called Kulla which differentiates them from Hindus. Muslims may either wear a shirt and Mundu or sometimes a Sherwani or Kurta, heavily embroidered. Christian men may wear a shirt and Mundu at their weddings or maybe a Suit or Blazer. Nowadays the latter is preferred.

Dresses Of Kerala
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Traditional Dress of Women in Kerala - Mundum-Neriyathum

The traditional attire for women is called 'Mundum-Neriyathum'. This consists of a pair of similar Mundus. One of them is worn around the hip on the lower portion of the body, reaching the ankles. The other is worn on the upper part, with a blouse, one end tucked in the lower Mundu at the waist and another is passing through the shoulder and falling to the ground from the back, resembling a saree.

Hindu women may wear a Mundu or a Saree depending on the occasion and custom. For weddings, they prefer Kanchipuram Saree made of silk and have zardosi or Kundan work on them. The dark colours are preferred, but white and black are avoided. Muslim women wear Sarees or Lehengas for their wedding with a lot of embroideries and golden zari on the veil. Sometimes, purdah is also opted to cover the face, depending on the customs. In Christians, they wear white Sarees and white blouses- complete white attire. Nowadays they've started wearing a white gown with a veil.

It's quite evident that the people of this southern state of India wear a very simple clothing. White is their favourite colour as it depicts purity, elegance and simplicity. Beautiful embroideries and Kara designs are enough to make it an occasional dress for them. Although the basic clothing in Kerala is very simple, it can be worn and designed according to different occasions, such as weddings, family events, regional festivals like Onam and Vishu. Kara can be beautifully designed, Mundus can be made of silk and can be differently styled for women, and blouse can also be woven or embroidered in a particular manner. This varies from community to community, religion to religion.

Dresses Of Kerala
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These days western culture has had a common influence on people not unlike the rest of India and people have started wearing western clothes like shirts, jeans, skirts, dresses, etc. But whenever any religious event or a wedding or any other function is celebrated, they make sure that traditions are followed, and people wear only the traditional attires. The people of Kerala still preserve the culture.

This post was published by Vishwas Jain

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