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The Dress Code of Kerala People (Malayalees)

Studying History and culture are interesting topics for Sunil Kunnoth. He wanders in that pursuit and loves sharing his observations.

A rich Malayali Bride

A rich Malayali Bride

The Cultural study is an interesting topic to study and research. Knowing what a particular society in a corner of the world does, eats and wears is a fasscinating topic. 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.

The famous film star Amitab Bachchan in Kerala traditional dress

The famous film star Amitab Bachchan in Kerala traditional dress

A teenager with her best collection

A teenager with her best collection

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.

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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.

In Kerala Sari

In Kerala Sari

The Malayali women in cheerful mood...

The Malayali women in cheerful mood...

In traditional attire

In traditional attire

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

Malayali's favorite 'Mundu'

Malayali's favorite 'Mundu'

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"!

A foreigner in Lungi, may be his first such experience!

A foreigner in Lungi, may be his first such experience!

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth


Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on October 18, 2014:

@Saleem Venghat, you are right. Thank you for the visit and comments,

Saleem Venghat on October 18, 2014:

The saree is a dress only in the world with 5 meters length without any stitching.

nisha on September 18, 2014:


Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on August 25, 2014:

Thank you Sreekumar for stopping by and leaving some comments.

Sreekumar on August 24, 2014:

Nice hub & Informative article . Well done & tks for sharing .

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on May 11, 2014:

Fathima Asna

Could you please clarify your request so that I can suggest something. Anyhow thanks for stopping by and leaving comments.

Fathima Asna on May 11, 2014:

I supposed to marry a boy from Kerala. I am a sri Lankan & I just came to this site after fighting with my boy for one of his fault.

Really scared of thinking the qualities of Kerala men? Plz can anyone give me a solace regarding this? :'(

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on May 22, 2013:

Thank you Nizar for the visit and comments.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on March 16, 2013:

Thanks for your visit and encouraging words.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 16, 2013:

Beautiful hub with very nice pictures. I have always loved Kerala and its culture. I have visited the place twice and found it amazing. I am a big fan of Kerala sarees, especially the white and golden combination.

You have introduced Kerala nicely, to those people, who do not know about its rich culture and tradition.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful hub!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on February 14, 2013:

Hi Yourglobalgirl,

Happy to note your comments. Thank you.

Yourglobalgirl from UK on February 13, 2013:

This is a really interesting hub. Saris are so beautiful.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on February 12, 2013:

Hi MargaritaEden,

Thank you very much for your nice words on my hub. Pleased to note you liked the photos too.

MargaritaEden from Oregon on February 12, 2013:

This is very interesting hub about culture and dresses, very beautiful photos too!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on January 30, 2013:

Thank you Benniji for your encouraging words. I shall find more such nice topics and write well.

benny sebastian thrissur on January 29, 2013:

hi sunilji,

it is more than what i expected and thanks for the informative points made availbale to the world. Hope you will find more and more such topics in the future too.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on December 14, 2012:

hi iguidenetwork

I am very much pleased to note your comments and voting up my hubs. Hope you would read other hubs too written by me and leave your precious comments. Once again thanks for your comments.

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on December 13, 2012:

I was surprised to discover that women from the lower caste wasn't allowed to be clad on the top. Well, I'm glad those were the olden days. Thanks for sharing a part of your rich tradition and culture. Voted up and interesting. :)

nizar on December 10, 2012:

Interesting article.

Visit us for changing ideas


Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on December 08, 2012:

Hi ElleBee,

Your observation is correct. I shall try to improve it with your suggestion soon. Thanks for your comments.

ElleBee on December 08, 2012:

The hub was a bit hard to follow because there are no headers/subdivisions but the pictures are very lovely.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on December 07, 2012:

Hello Eiddwen,

Very much pleased to note your encouraging comments. Hope you go through my other hubs too. Leave your valuable comments after that.

Eiddwen from Wales on December 05, 2012:

So interesting and I now look forward to many more.


Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on December 02, 2012:

Hi Devisree

Thank you very much for your sincere appreciation and voting up.

devisree from India on December 02, 2012:

Hi sunilkunnoth2012

Nice hub and neatly written about our culture. Proud to say,' I am also from the 'God's own country.' voted up.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on November 20, 2012:

hi satyingalivemoma,

Thank you. You have nicely expressed things. I hope you will look beautiful in sari. My advance wishes for your sari wearing day!

Valerie Washington from Tempe, Arizona on November 19, 2012:

I just love this hub! And the sarees are so beautiful! One day I will own one of my own and not just write about them. My admiration for eastern culture and dress is insatiable! voted up!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on November 15, 2012:

Hi Mellyunplugged,

Nice to note your encouraging comments.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on November 15, 2012:

Hi Thumbi

Thanks for your nice comments.

Melvin Augustine from India on November 15, 2012:

The photos are all really good, especially Kavya's. Nice hub !

JR Krishna from India on November 15, 2012:

You have some wonderful photos here.

Kavya looks stunning in the first photo.

Thanks for sharing.

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