"We have been asked to come in the traditional dress (boys in mundus and girls in the traditional Kerala saree). When the news was conveyed to us, it was greeted with cries of 'Oh, no'," a student of an engineering college here said.
Fashion spotter Mini Nair said this response was understandable because in today's modern world where time is a luxury, very few prefer to wear traditional outfits even on special ocassions.
"What I have observed is that let alone teenagers, even youth and the middle-aged prefer not to wear traditional attire. Today, more and more women, and also in smaller towns, prefer churidars to saris. This is also the trend with men," Nair told IANS.
Such is the extent of the shift that the previous Left dispensation issued a government order asking male staffers to turn up in a mundu at least once a week.
"This was done to give an impetus to the dying handloom industry in the state. Initially the response was poor but with even senior bureaucrats leading from the front, the habbit of wearing a mundu has increased in government offices," said a top bureaucrat.
Kochi homemaker Jincy Sebastian who, along with two friends, runs a small textile trading business, said fewer women came asking for sarees over the past few years.
"We source material from Bangalore and Chennai. When we started this business about six years ago, we had considerable sales of saris, but today, even middle-aged women who once used to ask for saris do not want them and have instead turned to churidars," Sebastian told IANS.
Manju Menon, who tailors fashion garments, says this is quite understandable and one reason is that now, more and more women have started to drive two-wheelers and cars and find it more convenient to wear a churidar.
"Also, I have noticed that many of my clients who wear saris have been asking to increase the length of the blouse. They say preying eyes are always looking to catch a glimpse of a woman's body when a saree is worn. This is another reason why more and more women are shunning saris," Menon added.
But a fan of the sari, a middle-aged professional, is unhappy because the manner in which it is draped has dramatically changed.
"Today, women use safety pins on sarees to cover that portion of the body that was earlier visible," said the professional, who did not wish to be identified.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 12-09-2013)