Posted in m@dness

Land of Lungis

This post is an entry at Blogjunta Dreams Contest to be judged by Jyoti Arora, author of Dream’s Sake

So I was forced to think about writing about Lungi coz last night I was watchin my cousin and wondering why there aren’t enough men in lungis these days.Recently, my friend sent the link to a YouTube video called ‘Land of Lungi’ lightly spoofing Kerala culture. I watched it three times before realising a sad fact: the lungi, despite featuring in the title of the song, might be an endangered item in Kerala.

Many years ago, there used to be a Kitex lungi advertisement featuring the Malayalam actor Indrans. It went something like this: A girl is being abused by a group of men. Indrans arrives at the scene and instead of mashing the villains into a pulp, he removes his lungi (in case you were wondering, yes, he was wearing boxers) and traps the men within its roomy interior. The ad is supposed to signify that Kitex lungi is not just about style but about substance too. My point is this: when was the last time you saw a lungi advertisement on television?

Sadly, it’s not just the lungi but its more subdued counterpart, the mundu, that’s facing extinction although at a much slower pace. Take Mollywood, that ever-reliable barometer of Malayali style. Unless the role particularly demands it (read if the hero is a politician, a Gandhian, or a villager), actors seem to prefer to stick to trousers. Grrr and its having an    impact on my dad too!! He stopped wearing them at home even.Bermudas is the new lungi he says n I ask, doesn’t the restricted air supply irritate him n he says buzz off!


In the three generations of men in mylife, I’ve personally witnessed the decline of the lungi in popularity. My very elderly uncle(85  years) refuses to wear anything but it in the house and a mundu  when he steps out, my dad only wears it during funtions and my brother has never worn one in his life. I asked him why and he gave me two reasons: He thinks that wearing a lungi is akin to sounding fashion’s death knell and he’s afraid it’ll fall off.

I beg to differ. What could be more fashionably elegant than the flowing silhouette of the lungi? Not to mention its power to mutate. A lungi is to Malayali apparel what steamed rice or ‘puttu’ is to Malayali food: it goes with everything, be it a transparent baniyan, a simple cotton shirt, a psychedelic silk one or a multi-coloured jubba.  Also, what other item of clothing can ensure proper air supply and let you show off your tanned Malayali legs without reducing the machismo quotient by even a sliver.

But my favourite benefit of the lungi is that it allows you to do The Flick. If you don’t know what The Flick is, watch any South Indian movie scene where the hero is wearing a lungi. It usually occurs right before an action sequence and will most probably be in slow motion (especially if it’s a Mohanlal starrer). The hero bends down slightly, does a mini hop-skip flicking the end of a lungi into an outstretched palm before he ties it round his hips and proceeds to demolish the villains; with every lungi-addict in the audience silently, or sometimes not so silently, cheering him on.

It saddens me that such a versatile piece of clothing might be reduced to a collector’s item in the near future. For all of you out there who are wary of sporting a lungi, I beg you to reconsider. Here’s to the hope that it will weather all storms and soldier on to the next generation and the one after that coz personally speaking if my knight in shining armour ever comes, I’d want him to be wearing a mundu/lungi!!!!

For all those who are still wondering what a lungi/mundu is and how you tie one, here goes….

P.S- I dream of a Kerala with men in Lungi and mundu, wearing it like its new style n makin it a must have in a men’s wardrobe!

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Author:

There is a deep and cosmological connection between my birth, my parent's decision to name me what they did, my profession and my education. This brings me to the conclusion that fate is predetermined and like in Hindu mythology, is written by Brahma when someone is born. Example: My name is unique. I did my grads in Psychology. I then did my masters in HR (offshoot of following all the psychos). I then did the ultimate decision of joining an MNC in ............. beat it, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. So, I have the concept 'MAD' in my name, my education, my choice of career and all the milestone decisions of my life. Now, is it predetermined or what ? :-D

15 thoughts on “Land of Lungis

  1. I was explaining a mundu to someone the other day. next time I’ll send them the link to your blog post. Good work and good luck with the contest

  2. i do not like lungis. not at all…. my father wears lungis.. those blue ones… and i find it so so so ugly.. 😦

    i like mundus though….. i wish all the lungi clad men in the world switched to wearing mundus… i love guys wearing mundus…. totally!!! i think it looks decent (if not folded to ‘revealing’ heights), and neat and traditional.. along wid being comfortable…

    but i swear.. i hate those printed lungis……..HATE.

  3. Wonderful article. I like lungies and mundus too. They are so indian and men in them are so cute! Those who wear them also show respect to India, to indian culture. They preserve indian traditions. But I disagree with idea that lungies and mundus on the streets of indian cities will disappear. Trousers are uncomfortable and ugly. As for mundus and lungies – they are beautiful and comfortable. People are not fools and they never make such wrong choice.

  4. Nice atricle.

    Having grown up in a Kerala where lungi was popular, I didn’t realise the lungi is a dying wear. The lungi is getting popular in Europe, albeit it comes under the name ‘Sarong’. I had picked up a stylish lungi a couple of years back from Kerala and wore it last summer whilst on the beach in Milos, Greece. It was comfy and practicle. Especially if you swim a lot.

    I agree with one of the comments – it is beautiful and practical. If it wasn’t so cold here would be wearing one whilst typing this mail. But am sure the weather doesn’t stop someone in Kerala wearing one….

    and if it is Fashion – is a very individual thing, If it helps to promote the lungi the next time in Kochi – I will wear a bright blue or orange lungi paired with a nice slim white shirt and pair of Tods moccasins and a few south american braclets…..

    but then you don’t have to do any of the above – as long as you are comfortable in your clothes you are stylish…..

    I am for the ‘land of the lungi’…..

  5. mundu clad men are a good reason to go to temples. 😛 Mundus rock. I still get goosebumps weh i see Mohanlal chetan in one of those good ol movies (that song Onaam ragam paadi) sporting a mundu. Lungis are a diff story. I gave a friend a fluorescent orange and purple lungi on his bday as a joke and he never once wore it. 😦

  6. Nice article.

    I am one of the few in my generation who wear lungi. None of my friends wear it; I just dont know why. Even though I am in Pune right now, I still wear it at home and at times outside. Its not just Lungi/mundu thats dying out. If you had noticed number of women (young of course ) who wear set-mundu or saree on daily bases is next to nill. Have you ever tried lungi/mundu? Its not a men’s only attire. If you care so much about it, then trying bring it back into fashion. Wear it and encourage your friends to wear it too.

    1. Rohit I appreciate ur thought! But y would i dig my own grave and write about women discarding the saree culture. But me, I would love to wear saree anyday anytime!

  7. let our tradition rule our state…
    foriegn culture tries to rule our state by all its aspects…
    it should not happen…if so…how can we show what is our culture and tradition to coming generations…
    but happy to know that, now a days girls find davani and saree as good and fashionable one…once in kerala ,females were wearing only set saree…
    it was really traditional to see…but now a days we see it rarely…:-(
    contribute well to bring back kerala to its olden traditions..

  8. even other states love kerala tradition and has started to imitate it…
    but y mallus try to change themselves….
    Lets bring back our old tradition and follow it and make aware of it’s importance to our future generation…

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