Kerala ethnic wear:
The Keralite’s preference for simple living is reflected in the attire Kerala ethnic wear of the region .The people from `God`s own country`, both men and women, are mostly seen dressed in off-white and white attires. The principal dress which the people of Kerala ethnic wear is largely traditional in nature. The traditional form of dress worn by the Keralites is Mundu and Neriyathu (a piece of white cloth having borders of golden zari symbolising royalty) for both men and women. The women also wear `sari` (a five to six meter long cloth which is embroidered with golden border) and jacket. Clothing worn by Malayalees varies slightly from region to region. Members of the various religious groups may also dress in a slightly differently manner.
Kerala ethnic wear: How to wear
The Kerala ethnic wear worn by the women of Kerala is the `mundum neriyathum.` The conventional piece is the `mundu` which is the lower garment and it consists of two cloth pieces. The `mundu` is worn around the hips and beneath the navel. This hand-woven cloth made of cotton, is very comfortable to wear in the summer season. The cloth is creamy or white in colour and possesses a coloured strip called border or `kara`. The women of Kerala wear mundu in this way except for the women of Christian origin. For them, the `mundu` is folded up in multiple folds and this part is hung at the back. Over the `mundu`, women take on a special type of blouse, covering the navel.
The `neriyathu` is the name of the upper garment which is put over the blouse having one of its ends inserted in the mundu and the other long end worn over the front torso. Kerala ethnic wear is worn in a diagonal way, from the right hips to the left shoulder looking like a sari. Both the `neriyathu` and `mundu` is stiffened and then worn with a blouse matching the border or Kara`s colour. This costume is worn every day and in the festive seasons people wear the same but with an ornamental `kara` or a border which is either copper coated, golden or artificial colored with temple or peacock design. The colour of the blouse is decided by the marital status and age of the women. Unmarried young Keralite girls take on green blouse whereas the married ones wear red blouse. At the time of the celebration of the famous festival of Onam, women belonging to different age groups wear it and participate in the folk dance known as `Kaikotti Kali
Kerala ethnic wear: Contemporary style
The `mundum neriyathum` was the traditional costume of the people of Kerala. But today, it has become an old fashion and is mostly worn by the old women of the state. Nowadays, it is being taken over by the `set-sari` which has become the dress of the Keralite women as a quasi `mundum neriyathum` and today as the `Kerala sari`. Nowadays, they are mostly seen attired in sari and blouse.