The wrap is gentle, elegant, and all-pervading. It weaves in the wearer but there is nothing complexly sartorial. It covers everything in plain sight but and uncovers and accentuates all that needs to be. It can be hemmed in, one end at a time, and secured around the waist in one fine stylish kink of the loose end.
To unfold the plot, let us unwrap a Mundu (dhoti) and see the finesse. The traditional Mundu white and light. There are off-white and shades of it. Over the years, Mundu has retained its charm as the choicest clad for occasions and work. One alien to the many avatars of mundu could be surprised at the sheer immensity of tasks that deft Mundu users perform wearing it. The level of expertise is mostly directly proportional to the risk involved - like clambering up a coconut tree in a Mundu with a sharp machete dangling down the waist.
Politicians have deftly adapted the wrap of elegance to their wardrobe. There are some who have never let go of it - despite their positions and constant need to be in formal attires. And, Mundu is almost synonymous with power and politics as many politicians have waded out to alien territories and uncanny geographies clad in a Mundu. Probably, they have taken a cue from the Mahatma.
Some young politicians opt for modern dress occasionally but many, irrespective of their age, use a mundu. Some politicians are die hard fans of the Mundu that they have often refused to budge to protocol-related appeals.
The prominent among politicians who go abroad in Mudnu is senior Congress leader and former Defence minister A.K. Antony. The second Malayali to be in the post after V.K. Krishna Menon, Antony had cemented the base of his political career in New Delhi. The former Kerala chief minister never bothered to switch to formal gear. During his tenure as union minister, Antony had conducted several official trips abroad comfortably clad in a white mundu.
Former chief minister Oommen Chandy too was in a Mundu during many of his foreign trips. Former Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan was a stickler. He is known for his penchant for venturing out in mundu even to difficult terrains for official recce. He had clambered up the difficult Mathikettan Mala in a Mundu.
Some of the other prominent politicians who prefer a wrap are vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, Congress leader and former state electricity minister Aryadan Mohammed, former Kerala finance minister K.M. Mani, former Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi, among others. Former union minister Murli Manohar Joshi was a strict adherent of the north Indian counterpart of mundu - the dhoti. He had even visited the UN assembly wearing it.
Even though politics and politicians have been synonymous with traditional apparel, clubs across the country, which mandated formal dress codes, have always given the Mundu-wearers a 'dressing down.' The then Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa had taken steps to end this discrimination against traditional attire by enacting a law. The issue had cropped up after a Madras High Court judge and two lawyers were denied entry to the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) Club in 2014.
Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu assembly enacted the Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of restriction of dress) Act, 2014. It stated that 'no recreation club, association, trust, company or society shall make any rule, regulation or bylaw, imposing restriction on entry to any person wearing a 'veshti' (dhoti) reflecting Indian culture or any other Indian traditional dress into any public place under its control or management.'