Tripunithura, a Kochi suburb and the land of Sree Poornathrayeesa, is gearing up to welcome Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala. The air had the feel of festivity to it and the streets a golden glow, from the traditional Kasavu (golden border) Mundu and Kerala Sarees in display at the textile shops. This edition of Fashion Street features style tips for guys and girls who wish to be part of #MunduMania to celebrate this traditional attire of Kerala.
Mundu, that once was the dress code of an entire state, was dethroned by more convenient denims and churidars. However, some fashion bravado still like to adorn this attire, with an urge to revive it.
Mundu not just accentuates the figure of the wearer, but it is also apt for the humid climate of Kerala. Mundu went through a transitional phase turning from gold/silver Kasavu Mundu to embroidery. This time Mundu has comeback in all possible colors and it deserves some celebration.
While men wear Mundu as a symbol of manliness, women adore its femininity. According to Hindu tradition, it is mundu and neriyathu, among Christians, it is mundu and chatta, and with Muslims it is kachi mundu - in each style the drape of mundu is different.
While looking for 'Mundu moments' in Kochi, I came across Alen Babu, who had proudly adopted this style for a long time, along with his brother Abin Babu. Alen says that it is not just him, but while attending an international camp in Chennai, he inspired some foreigners to adapt Mundu style. Alen prefers to wear Mundu, while his brother Abin wears it only on occasions.
Those who are looking to stay trendy yet not game for the colorful varities of mundu flooding the market now, could follow Alen's styling, which matches his contemplative countenance.
He picked a green mundu with intricately printed Malayalam letters/alphabets - designer wear made on order - against a light white border and a maroon cotton silk kurta with Chinese collar.
Alen loves to accessorize his hands with a Casio Edifice watch and brown leather cuff from Mattanchery street markets while wearing mundu. An Opium branded aviator shades and a pair of cutworked leather sandals from Bata complete his styling.
In traditional jubba and Kasavu Mundu, Abin's was the styling for the purists. His Kolhapuri Chappals signed off his attire perfectly.
Mundu in girls wardrobe
Fashion divas of Kerala are not far behind, though they prefer wearing 'mundu and neriyathu' only on occasions. Restrictions on movements and the monotony of the drape are a few reasons they cite for reserving the traditional attire for special days.
Swathi Guptha and Swetha Guptha likes to give eclectic fashion statements to stand out from the mundane crowd, but in their casuals.
Mundu with a twist
When offered to style mundu as a casual, the Guptha sisters were all game to rock Mattanchery.
Ahead of curves
Mundu, one of the oldest remnants of saree, sits comfortably on all body types. It was a delight to style Swathi, who has a pear-shaped body, as mundu could emphasize her curves.
Those with similar body shape can drape mundu, embedded with Kalamkari border, as a sarong or dhoti - the asymmetrical drape will have cowl on one side and tapers towards the hem. For Swathi, the mundu was secured tightly at the waist with the Kalamkari border tie-up. Swathi teemed her exquisite Mundu with ONLY's knitted maroon top. Her sandals were of beige base with off-white braided and weaved straps. An oxidized silver jhumka, which accentuated her Mundu to a cutting edge, completed her look.
Swetha, a true bubbly girl, was given a big bow to heighten the fecundity of her youth. The drape was an amalgamation of Christian style Mundu with neatly pleated 'njori' at the back, which ultimately resulted in a Victorian bustled skirt.
The Mundu had golden kara border and accessorized with a jhumka in an antique gold shade. Her ocher yellow top from ONLY had a row of bows at center back. And Swetha gracefully sashayed through the crowd with her newly-draped Mundu.
While our styles have evolved over time, it is important to remember and celebrate our traditions, without any hesitation and with vigor. So do not let your mundu sit idle in your closets this Onam season, try different drapes and set the fashion quotient straight!
Let's celebrate Onam with a new #MunduMania.
Designer & stylist: Cinu Mariam George
Photos: Kenaz Mathew George
Costume Courtesy: Swathi and Swetha of Itzzfashions
(The author is an Onmanorama freelance fashion writer.)