The traditional Kerala attire of Mundu and Neriathu is simple, elegant, and beautiful. The combination of cream and golden colors makes it look rich. The people of Kerala definitely have a penchant for Gold and the color. Though widely confused, the Kerala Saree and Set Mundu are totally different attires, though both are equally traditional and come in the same combinations. Here’s a quick guide to getting dressed up in typical Kerala attire:
Photo by SUHAEL
Men can get dressed swiftly in a Dhothi or Cream Kasavu Mundu and a Kurtha or Shirt of their choice. The Dhoti or Mundu is different from Lungi. The Mundu is typically a long piece of hand-woven cloth with a Kara which could be colored or the golden Kasavu, which forms the typical Kerala attire for men. It usually comes with a Melmundu which is a smaller and thinner version of the Mundu, you can get the Mundu separately too. The Mundu is a one-size fits all. You can just wrap it around your waist with the Kasavu or Kara aligned to the right-leg. The extra length is pleated and tucked in displaying the Kara or Kasavu. The Muslims wear it to the left though. If you are scared that the Mundu may fall off, you can tie a belt over it and secure the Mundu.
The Melmundu can be used like a shawl to cover your upper body when you are not allowed to wear a shirt. During auspicious occasions like Pooja and visiting temples, the men are not allowed to wear a shirt. The Melmundu comes handy at these times. Wear a cooling Chandanam on the forehead and you are ready as a typical Malayali.
The women have two options – the Set Mundu or ‘Mundum Neriathum’ and the Kerala Saree. While both are perfectly Kerala attire, the Set Mundu is considered more authentic.
Photo by mdrivephoto
Wearing the Set Mundu
The Set Mundu is the easiest to wear and it resembles just the way men wear the Kasavu Mundu. It is worn over a white or off-white underskirt. The Mundu can be tucked into the skirt just as the saree. The only difference is that women can choose to keep the Kasavu border either on their right or in the middle depending upon the width of the border. A matching Melmundu is also a part of the Set Mundu which is pleated like the upper portion of the saree and worn. One end of the Melmundu is tucked around the waist and the other falls over the left shoulder with pleats. Women wear a blouse matching the border of the Set Mundu over which the Melmundu is pleated and pinned.
Wearing the Kerala Saree
The Kerala Saree is worn just like any other saree is worn. The saree is hand-woven and resembles the Set Mundu with golden Kasavu or colored border.
The hair can be parted in the middle or side and put up for convenience. Jasmine flowers are a must to complete the Kerala Attire. If you have long hair, you can also plait it and put the Jasmine flowers. The typical Kerala dressing consists of some beautiful and colorful jewelry too. The green-stoned Palakka Mala, the Elakkathali choker, the Mango necklace and Coin Necklace are traditional jewelry worn with Kerala attire. Bangles are worn on both the hands. It could be glass or metal bangles matching the color of the Kara or golden bangles that look more elegant and traditional. The umbrella-shaped Jimki is a must as the earrings.
Makeup is not at all essential when you are already dressed up beautifully. Wear a Bindi and a dash of Sandalwood paste or Chandanam on your forehead to complete the Kerala look.
Kerala attire is the simplest and yet the most elegant one that makes the person look elegant.
Featured Photo by caffeinated_zeitgeist