The Dress Code of Kerala People (Malayalees)
The Cultural study is an interesting topic to follow up and research. Knowing what a particular society in a corner of the world does, eats and wears is educative as well. Their culture, tradition, living style and standards, understanding these things are not only amusing but also amazing.
If you agree with me, then, I invite you to have a walk with me. Yes, we go for a study tour to learn the dress code of Malayalees. Now one question arises in your mind: who are these Malayalees? Simply speaking Malayalees are those who speak Malayalam as their mother tongue. Generally, the people of Kerala speak Malayalam. Thus, Keralites are Malayalees. There are hundreds of thousands of people who live and work outside Kerala and outside India. So naturally, they too can be called Malayalees. In fact, you can find Malayalees everywhere in the world. They are the largest migrating people in the globe in search of jobs and good living conditions. You know, they are called 'Mallus' by the outsiders. Try a search on any search engine with the text "Mallu Jokes". You may be amazed at the results.
Primarily what makes a Malayali so different is his appearance. He likes to wear White Mundu (Dhothi) as a formal dress. Though Pants and Jeans are youths' choice, on festivals or other auspicious occasions, they too prefer wearing 'Mundu'. The women's favorite dress is 'Sari'. They also love to wear Churidar.
In fact, Sari is a wonder for people outside India. In India, women of all states wear Sari though its popular usage is in the southern part of India. Sari is a 5 to 6-meter long cloth without any stitch on it. And it is the only such kind of dress in the world without any tailor work on it. Of course, 'Mundu' also comes in that category. But some people, especially the Tamilians 'close' it with a stitch so that both edges of the cloth are united and it takes the shape of a Ready-made dress. Women wear Blouse with Sari. The style and design of blouses vary according to culture, area, age and season. Plenty of designs experiment on the blouse like sleeveless, full sleeve, short sleeve, V-neck, round neck, square neck, wide neck, etc.
According to Indian culture of dressing, the sari is considered as an executive or formal wear for ladies The Air Hostess and Executives of Hotel and Travel Industries are often advised to use sari for expression of cultural reflection. It provides them a true Indian look.
How to wear a Sari? Simply watch this video
The price of sari starts from Rs.100/- (roughly 2 US$) and goes up to hundreds of thousands of bucks. On marriage function, women opt Silk saris (also called Kancheepuram Pattu since silk is made from there, a village in Tamil Nadu). Kancheepuram silk gives ladies a royal look. Some even prefer Banaras silk. While women use saris on formal occasions like wedding, family functions, girls love to wear 'Pattu Pavada' or silk skirt with blouse stretching beneath their naval. Women love to decorate their hair with Jasmine flowers especially when they wear saris. And more so when they attend marriage functions.
Though men wear different dresses like Mundu, Pants, Suit, Sherwani, Kurta, etc., women wear only Saris on their wedding days. How would a rich Malayali bride look like on her wedding? I can answer you by pointing your attention to the photo of the woman shown in the beginning part of this article. You see the beauty of the sari and the lavishness of gold jewelry on her person. (I hope Kavya Madhavan, the famous Malayalam Film Actress, who happened to be a model here, will excuse me for displaying her photo. Excuse me Kavya, it is for a good cause!) Hindu men use Mundu on some auspicious day while Muslims and Christians wear anything other than Mundu. Mostly they prefer Suit and Coat (formals).
'Lungi' (color dhoti with designs) is what men wear when they are inside the home. Though other people have largely shifted to Pants and Bermudas, Malayalees still stick on to Lungi. But here too the youth prefer other dresses like Three-fourth, Pants, Bermuda, etc when they are in the home. Ladies at home prefer Maxi or Nighties. It is an informal one and never wear on formal occasions. Still, daily laborers (coolies) try it in the workplace.
The old generation also wears a white colored 'Thorth' (Towel) on their shoulder. To clean or wipe hand and face, they use it. The youth also adopts this style, but its use is limited to the under-educated ones. Outside Kerala, we recognize Malayalees immediately just on this 'towel display' by them.
The aged people (both men & women) prefer white dresses. Some never wear a colorful dress. Mundu and Shirt of white color are their favorite choice. Similarly, women prefer 'Vashti' ( a kind of white mundu/saree) and blouse with the same color.
As is elsewhere in the world, the more fashion and trends are in the female dress category. For comfort and convenience, most of the Malayali females aged below 40 opt Churidar and above 40 opt Sari.
Jeans and pants have only a few takers among the womenfolk. Since Malayalees are the most conservative society in India, their experiments on the dress are very limited. The case is just different in the rest of the country. Still, Malayali women are reluctant to display their body and cover most of it decently.
They will never exhibit their breast (even partially too) and thigh publicly. in the olden days, Kerala women belonging to lower caste were not allowed to cover their bust! They would be punished if they dare to wear blouse!! It is only after a lot of appeals and agitations, they got permission to cover their nudity.
The bad thing about Malayali women is their 'never-ending lust' for Gold. They wear a lot of gold ornaments. A kind of exhibition to show off their richness. I once again take your attention to the photo of Kavya Madhavan. Imagine the cost of her lavish ornaments. It will cost lakhs of rupees. The cost of gold is skyrocketing nowadays. Still, women run after this yellow metal so madly. The marriage of poor girls is blocked just for want of gold. How can they purchase such a costly material? In the matrimonial field, what we see today is a bad trend. It is like this: If you have gold, you will have boys. How tragic it is that poor girls remain in-house unmarried for lack of money and gold. Things will be changed only women stop their mad chase for this yellow metal! (Kavya, again sorry for dragging you to Hub-pages after all it is for a good mission to educate the 'blind' and to kill their vanity!)
This Video highlights the dress code of Malayalees
The tradition and traditional attires of Keralites are different from the rest of India. Cultural dignity and maturity of Malayalees are well reflected in their dress code too. For them, it must be decent enough. Why? Just for that simple reason: They are living in a land called "The God's own Country"!
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© 2012 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth