Kerala, a state in southern India, is renowned for its thriving culture and traditions. The state’s colourful and varied traditional clothing is a notable feature of its culture. Kerala’s traditional clothes are a reflection of the state’s rich history and distinct culture, from the graceful and sophisticated silk sarees to the regal and majestic bridal wear.
Each garment has its history and tradition, from the Mundu worn by men to the Mundum Neriyatham and Silk Sarees worn by ladies. Incorporating your sense of style into these time-honoured ensembles is the key to making them look fresh and current.
In this post, we’ll look at the various traditional attire worn by men and women in Kerala and offer advice on how to wear it in 2023. This guide will help you feel and look your best in the most current fashions, whether you’re attending a wedding, a cultural event, or just want to enjoy the beauty of the traditional dress of Kerala.
Men’s traditional Kerala dresses
· Mundu or Lungi
One type of bottom attire known as lungi has gained popularity throughout India, not just in Kerala. People wearing Lungis are common in Kerala and other Southern states. Lungi is also known as Mundu in Kerala. It is one of those outfits that provides guys with all-day comfort. As we already know for a fact, a lungi is a long item of clothing that is worn loosely from the bottom up around the waist.
Considering that Kerala’s climate is hot and humid, this is the ideal clothing for men to wear to provide them with the comfort they need. It protects them from infections, fungi, and other sweat-related issues.
It is rude to speak to a woman or an elder while wearing a folded Mundu since it exposes the legs below the knees.
- Try draping the Mundu in unconventional ways, like the double Mundu drape or the Nair style, to create a one-of-a-kind look.
- Put on a gold chain or bracelet, either plain or ornate, to exude class and tradition.
- For a sophisticated look, wear the Mundu with a traditional shirt, such as a white or cream shirt with a Nehru collar or a basic kurta.
Mundu: How to Dress?
- Mundu is wrapped around the waist.
- By tucking its bottom end into the waist, it can occasionally be folded in half.
- During exercise, this makeshift version is useful.
Men used to pair Lungi with Jubba in the traditional ways of wearing it. It was once more a piece of fabric that was wrapped about the torso, perhaps a towel or shawl. Men wore this outfit in the past for special events including weddings, yagyas, and festivals. Lungi is still widely worn and adored by everyone, including children, but Jubba is gradually moving into the villages.
Nowadays, shirts and t-shirts take the role of Jubba. Because white is one of the most common colours used in the state, individuals choose to wear white shirts. Originally composed of silk, Lungi and Jubba are now produced using a variety of materials.
- Try adding a traditional Mundu or Dhoti as an accessory to the Jabba and experimenting with various draping techniques to give it a more distinctive look.
- For a more formal event, consider a shawl with elaborate embroidery or sequins to provide a splash of colour.
- Put it all together with a pair of classic sandals or mojdis, and define your curves with a leather belt, either plain or adorned.
If you look at Keralan males, you will notice that they are wearing a Melmundu with their Mundu or Lungi, the state’s traditional attire. This is also a component of the men’s overall costume in this culture and is typically draped across the upper torso. The Melmundu covers the chest area and is carried over the shoulders like a shawl or towel. Yet in modern times, a white shirt stands in for melmundu.
- For a big and regal appearance, pick a Melmandu in a striking colour like red, blue, or green and add elaborate gold embroidery or ornaments.
- Pair with classic sandals or mojdis and accessorize with a simple gold chain or bracelet for a nod to the past.
- Choose a Melmandu with a modern design, like a geometric or floral pattern, and style the hair in a basic, slicked-back hairstyle or a low bun for a contemporary take on a classic look.
Traditional Men’s Dresses for Kerala’s different religious communities
Hindu men typically wear Mundu with a shirt or Melmundu. To complete their traditional and attractive appearance, Brahmins wear Uthareeyam in addition to the aforementioned clothing.
Christian men typically wear a dress shirt, dress pants, and a jacket or a suit and tie. They occasionally wear a Mundu and a simple blouse.
Muslim males also wear Kurtas and Sherwanis in addition to the Mundu and Melmundu or shirts of the traditional dress of Kerala.
Women’s traditional Kerala dresses
One of the clothing items worn or utilized frequently by ladies is the mundum-neriyathum. Mundum-Neriyathum is worn in a variety of settings, from everyday wear to special occasions and festivals. It is an outfit comprised of three separate garments that, when worn, resemble a saree. In this outfit, a piece of fabric is tied around the waist like a lungi but folded in the front like a saree. Then, a blouse is worn over another garment that mimics Jubba and is wrapped over the upper torso (Choli).
When it is put together, it has a saree-like appearance, but it is not a saree. and appears classy. This dress is typically worn by Keralan women in white, however, many other women do wear it occasionally.
- Try on a variety of blouses, from those with a high neckline to those that fall off the shoulders.
- Put on a belt to emphasize your waist and draw attention to that area of your body.
- To add a splash of colour and sparkle, pair with striking earrings and bangles.
· Silk Sarees
The saree is one of the most common and well-liked women’s clothes in the entire nation. Yet, Keralans take great delight in donning silk sarees, which are cosy, light, and exquisite. Sarees are frequently worn for weddings in the state, and if you see somebody getting married according to their customs or culture, a saree will undoubtedly be their first option.
You have a wide variety of options when it comes to bridal sarees, and the prints, embroidery, and other details are all done in a very professional manner. Due to its importance to Hindu tradition as well, Keralan women still adore wearing sarees.
- Try draping the saree differently, like the Gujarati or Bengali drape.
- Wear with a blouse of a different colour and adorn with a nose pin or maang tikka for added flair.
- Choose a saree with a bold print or pattern, and accessorize with only a few simple pieces.
· Bridal Attire in Kerala
It’s impossible to have a conversation about a state’s fashion and clothing scene without eventually getting around to talking about wedding dresses; after all, it’s not just a dress, it’s the dress you wear on your wedding day. The traditional Kerala bridal attire is a paragon of elegance. Women look stunning in soft pastels, and while flashy gold jewellery was formerly popular, minimalistic gold, silver, ruby, platinum, diamond, etc. items seem to be more in vogue now.
- Use a vivid, eye-catching colour, such as red, orange, or pink.
- Choose a saree or lehenga with elaborate embroidery or embellishments.
- Style your hair in a bun with fresh flowers and accessorize with classic gold jewellery like a choker, bangles, and earrings.
Bridal attire for different religious communities
Wedding gowns in Kerala are also diverse, depending on the religion of the bride.
· Hindu bride
Kerala is known for its exquisite gold jewellery, so it’s no surprise that Hindu brides wear vibrant hues when they go down the aisle.
· Christian bride
When it comes to Christian brides, it’s hard to go wrong with the tried-and-true white dress and veil-and-bouquet combination.
· Muslim brides
Muslim brides typically opt for a more traditional appearance, complete with heavy makeup, a dupatta, and an embroidered silk saree, for their wedding day.
Accessories for Keralan men
The Kulla, a cap-like headgear worn by Muslims in Kerala, serves as a distinguishing feature. Even if they don’t always wear it (it varies on the individual’s preference), you can still see them wearing it on important occasions.
Accessories for Keralan women
· Manga Mala
When it comes to women, an outfit has never been deemed complete without accessories from the very beginning. And it’s still the same today. Moreover, married ladies are required to wear jewellery made of gold and diamonds (not necessary but can be done if one can afford it).
A gold necklace called a manga mala touches the top part of the stomach. According to their tradition, this was the initial length of the mala. Due to their interesting designs, the necklace appeared stunning. Moreover, it contains little pendants shaped like mangos.
Another wonderful necklace style used by women in this picture on special occasions is this one. The Mulla Motu is a sophisticated work of art that is a requirement for brides. And they have been doing this from the beginning. Jasmine petals preserved in order are used to make this necklace. It has a stunning appearance and frequently plays up the beauty of the bride.
· Karimani Mala
While The Motu is a must-have for brides, it is no longer feasible for them to wear it for the rest of their lives once they get married. The quantity of gold is the key factor. As a result, after a few days or months of marriage, Keralans favour Karimani Mala over Mulla Motu.
Ladies put on the Karimani Mala, a Keralian variation of the mangalsutra, after removing the Mulla Motu. Karimani Mala is a lovely Kerala-styled Mala, not like a typical mangalsutra.
Conclusion on How to Style Traditional Styles of Kerala
In conclusion, Kerala’s traditional clothing is a window into the state’s illustrious past and distinctive culture. Whether you’re a native or just visiting, dressing like a local in Kerala is a great way to learn more about the state’s rich history and culture. Incorporating your sense of style into these time-honoured ensembles is the key to making them look fresh and current.
Let’s take a cue from Kerala’s traditional clothing as we enter 2023 and adapt it to our wardrobe with a new viewpoint. Try on a variety of draping techniques, wear traditional gold jewellery, and mix in some contemporary accessories for a fresh take on a classic ensemble. With these guidelines, you can make a splash at any celebration of culture while paying homage to the long and illustrious history of Kerala.
· What is the typical attire for men in Kerala?
Mundu, which is worn on the lower body from the waist to the foot, is the state’s traditional dress. Both sexes can wear it because it is white. It looks like a dhoti or a long skirt. Depending on age and gender, different tops are worn.
· What is the name of the typical Kerala woman’s attire?
The traditional attire for women in Kerala is a two-piece outfit called the mundum neriyathum, although most of them wear saris. A mundu is a piece of unstitched cloth worn around the waist. One end of the neriyathu is tucked into the waist and worn diagonally from the left shoulder.
· What kind of attire is customary in Kerala for weddings?
Although gold is revered as the “metal of the gods,” it is customary for a Kerala woman to wear a lot of it in her wedding attire. The bride must wear a Kasavu Pudava, which is a white or off-white sari with gold borders and embellishments.
· What is Kerala’s traditional religious attire?
It is an all-white outfit that consists of a white top (“Chatta”) that covers the upper body and a long white skirt (“Mundu”) that wraps around the waist and falls to the ankles.
· Which fabric is most well-known in Kerala?
The ‘Karalakudi sari,’ also known as the ‘Kerala sari,’ is a representation of Kerala’s vibrant culture and traditions. 100% unbleached cotton textiles are hand-woven.
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