The Mundum neriyathum or kasavu, also known as the Kerala Kasavu, is a saree that embodies simplicity, elegance, and perfection.
This saree stands out from the multitude of traditional sarees from India because of its rich gold border reflecting its ivory or off white colour. It is worn by Malayalee women throughout the year, not only during Onam, the Malayalee New Year.
The Kasavu weave is used to make the Settu Mundu, which is made up of two parts: the mundu or mund, which is the lower garment, and the neriyathum, which is the upper garment. The Kara part of the two pieces of clothing is the portion with the most design potential – in the form of embroidery, print, or zari.
Traditionally, the Kara has motifs that reflect Shakuntala’s life as well as legends from folklore and mythology associated with the local culture.
Here are two different ways to drape the mund neriyathum to achieve the ultimate Kerala drape. Keep in mind that there were never any six-yard-long sarees sold in the name of Kerala kinds of cotton in the first place.
Draping in the Namboodri Style
The Namboodri drape is a small variant that women from this Brahmin culture, mostly from Travancore, have continued to wear until now. They can be seen in Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings, which extolled the elegance of not only the human body but also the culture of clothing in this country.
This style has traditionally been worn as their everyday dress at all festivals, including in some cases in rural areas. In reality, in caste-ridden Kerala, the Mundu neriyathum’s appearance aided in the identification of caste demarcations.
Step 1 –
Wrap the lower garment, or mundu, around the waist so that the two ends meet in the front. Take it in such a way that the wide golden border forms a vertical broad stripe down the front when you pleat plenty. Tuck the other end in on the left side of the hip, thus making many pleats and tucking the other end with the wide golden stripe.
Step 2 –
Now drape the top cloth, or neriyatham, over the top, covering the front and allowing the fabric’s length to reach the lower portion of the Mundum up to the knees and even lower. The fabric is easily folded, tucked, and possibly pinned up in the centre.
Mundu Famous Drape Set
A matching blouse and petticoat are needed here as well.
Step 1 –
Tuck in the lower fabric, or mund, on the right side of the hip, making sure the length leftover has the wide gold line. Create big pleats and tuck them in at the front of the dress so that the gold border runs down the front. Make sure the mundu isn’t too closely wrapped.
Step 2 –
Begin pleating the top cloth, also known as the neriyathum, from one end. Place the pleated fabric on the left shoulder, leaving a pallu length below the knees or at least to the back of the knees. It should be pinned to the left shoulder.
Step 3 –
For the remaining longish length, take one of the corners and wrap it around the back of your neck, under the right shoulder, and around the back of your neck, tucking it in at the same spot as the front pleats. Rearrange the shoulder pleats until they’re neat.
Putting on a Kasavu in Kerala Style
Many of us have purchased a kasavu saree in a standard 6-yard length and do not have a matching mundu. Does this mean we won’t be able to try the Kerala traditional drape? Not in the least! Here’s how to do it in a traditional kasavu saree.
Preparing for the look: gold jewellery and a head full of flowers.
If you have the opportunity, try the side bun for a more genuine appearance.
Step 1 –
Drape the saree as you usually will. Bring the length to the front by tucking it in on the right and taking it around the end. Make sure there’s enough length in the front to make pleats. Make pleats and neatly tuck them in.
Step 2 –
Drape the remaining length of the saree over the upper body, going under the left arm, back, and emerging under the right arm.
Step 3 –
Using the remaining length, make three or so wide pleats with the golden border running vertically downwards. Tuck it into the blouse’s front neckline. You may also use pins to secure it.
Although the Kasavu has undergone some styling evolution, the Kerala saree’s signature look – off white and white with slight differences in blouse designs and the recent emergence of hand-drawn mural sarees – has remained largely unchanged. The majority of draping designs have stayed true to the classic look.