As one grows older, relationship with your relatives keeps changing. Certain experience forces one to change one’s views drastically, however it may hurt you. A part of you dies, eternally. It must be similar to the grief one feels when someone very close to you dies. Anyway, it is neither about grief nor about relationship that I wanted to pen on my blog today. It is about an attire that will soon disappear from a section of the society in Kerala. It was brought to my mind when I remembered my maternal grandmother who continues to hold a special place in my heart. She was a very strong lady and her memories continue to give me strength during the dark days of my life. Although she lost her elder son in his prime age, it never turned her into a bitter woman. She became only more strong and more nurturing.
During a certain era, the Christian ladies in Kerala used to wear only the "Mundu and Chatta". While the origin of it is still in dispute, some say this tradition dates back to the time of the Jewish settlement in Kerala, while there is also some who say that it was brought to Kerala by the Portugese. But then, it is also similar to the Indian sari. The white “Mundu” is about 7 yards in length and covers the lower part from the waist while a form of blouse(in white) with a “V” shaped neck covered the upper part of the body. A piece of cloth called "Neriyathu" (similar to the pallav of the sari) decorated with threads of gold is normally worn over the blouse while going out of the house. This will be gathered on the shoulder with the help of a brooch or a safety pin. The famous singer Usha Uthup can be seen wearing the same in the following photo. It is from the only Malayalam movie that she acted in, where she plays the part of a Christian lady.
|Usha Uthup in the movie "Pothenvava"|
|An old picutre of a Christian Couple from Kerala|
|One can see the "Njori" or the fan like piece in this picture of an old lady of Kerala|
While I may lament about lost traditions, I am happy that the women from my part of the world are free to wear any dress of their choice; whatever may be their age.