The dresses of this south Indian State are heavily influenced by the culture & tradition of Kerala. The color of the dresses are generally white or off-white and are simple in appearance. For some special occasion like wedding the colors represents different shades of red. Further, the hot climatic conditions also bear an influence on the type of dresses worn by the local people of Kerala.
Kerala comprises people of different religion such as Hindus, Muslims and Christians and theses religious faith influences the dress code in the state. Proper dressing forms one of the important elements in the culture as it is very important for both the sex to be dressed properly in public. The fabric of the dresses worn are generally of cotton to provide the much needed comfort during the hot and humid climate.
Traditional Dresses for Women of Kerala
The dress for the women of Kerala carries high importance and regarrd in the society. The traditional garments are quite old and have been followed for many generations now and has become an integral part of the life of the people.
The women of Kerala wear traditional costume called Mundum Neriyathum. The mundu is the lower garment and neriyathu is the upper one worn over a jacket or a blouse. The lower part of the dress consists of two pieces of cloths. Mundu is worn below the naval and is made of cotton. The cloth is white in color with colored bordered. These borders are called kara and it is often decorated with various designs or may be golden colored. Sometimes it is also copper coated. On the upper part of the body the women wear a blouse (jacket) covering the naval. On top of the blouse the neriyathu is worn. One end neriyathu is inserted inside the mundu while the other end is worn over the torso. Worn in a diagonal way the garment looks like a sari. One of the interesting things about this dress is the color of the blouse or the jacket. The color of the blouse or jacket is often matched with the color of the Kara. During the festive season the color of the blouse is selected according to the age and martial status of the women. The married ones wear Red blouse whereas those unmarried wear a Green one.
Another popular and traditional dress for the women folks of Kerala is the Sari. With the passage of time the sari has also become a major part of the Kerala costume. One may say that mundum neriyathum in recent times have been replaced by sari to a large extent. This costume comes in various designs and colors. One can find intricate design work on the saris in Kerala. The colors are mainly white and off-white but other shades are also equally popular.
Salwar Kameez is also a popular dress of the women. With changing time the traditional dress of Kerala has seen a transition in its use. Today it is mainly during the festive occasion that the girls and women of the Kerala state wear mundum neriyathum. For the rest of the year they wear mainly sari or other dresses.
Traditional Dresses for Men of Kerala
The traditional dresses for the men of Kerala are also quite old.
The base color of their dress is white and it is also called the Mundu. Mundu like in the case of women is worn in the lower part of the body. The piece of cloth reaches the toes from the waist. On the upper part of the body they do not wear any cloth. The men who belongs to the upper caste drape a piece of cloth. With the changing time people have started wearing a shirt and it is also white in color. This particular dress is worn by a large section of people in Kerala and further, being of cotton it is ideal in the hot and humid climate of the region.
Another dress for the men of Kerala is the Kasavu Mundu which is generally worn by people of rural areas. It is 3-4 meter long cotton twin cloth with the silk border.
Lungy is another dress that is generally worn inside the home.
Similar to the transition in the dressing style of the women, the men also wear modern garments these days. Shirt, t-shirts, trousers and jeans forms a part of their attire in work place and also during the leisure time.
Dressing Style Of Different Communities In Kerala
The state of Kerala is home to other religions and communities like Christians and Muslims. The dresses of these communities are also influenced by the prevailing style of the region. The Muslim men wear a mundu, but in a different style. They cover their head with a traditional cap. Whereas, the Muslim women wear a long garment along with a cloth to cover their head.
The Christians women wear a mundu along with special type of blouse. The mundu is generally worn in a different way from that of the Hindu women. One side of the mundu is folded in several parts and is placed at the back. Whereas, the christian men costumes is similar to that of the Hindu.
The Bridal costumes form an important part of the society of Kerala. They vary in color, style and texture. It is also influenced by different religions followed by the individuals.
Hindu - In a Hindu marriage, one may see the bride dressed in a mundu or a sari. The bridal costumes are very beautifully designed and represent a fine embroidery work done with precision and care. Kancheepuram sari is one of the popular choices during this auspicious occasion. Kundan, cut work, zardozi and other intricate work may be seen on the bridal saris. The fabric used for bridal attire are Silk, crape and georgette with usually red, maroon, orange and magenta colors. Colors resembling white or black is prohibited for wedding purpose though it is used as an ideal color for daily purpose. For men the attire comprises of white colored mundu and silk jubba.
Muslim - During the Muslim wedding celebration the men in general wear white colored mundu and shirt. In the recent years kurta and shervani have also become popular in the Kerala state. The bride wear a silk sari for their wedding along with lengha. The dupatta forms the head dress and golden lace is also attached. The entire dress is richly designed with bright colors.
Christian - The sari worn by the Christian brides are also white in color during their wedding ceremony. The veil on their head is also white in color. The color white symbolizes purity for the brides. Gowns have also become quite popular these days as the bridal costumes. There is not much restriction among the dresses men wear. They may wear shirts and trouser or shirt with mundu. Some also opt for blazers along with the trouser.
Sarees - An Part Of Kerala's Tradition
Sarees have formed an important & integral part of Kerala’s traditional costumes. Kancheepuram Silk is a popular choice amongst many women of the state of Kerala. Benaras silk is also worn during special occasions. A traditional wear of the state is the half saree. It consists of short blouse, a full skirt and a shawl called davani. Another form of saree is the Set Saree or the Kerala Saree, which is quite similar to the mundum neriyathum that is quite prevailant in Kerala. Unlike the mundum neriyathum it comes in single piece. It is mainly worn on occasions like Vishu or Onam.
Last Updated On: 2011/08/24