Monday, February 21, 2011


The pavada has almost vanished from the Malayali girl's wardrobe. This traditional pleated dress has been replaced by jeans, trousers and salwar kurtas.

IF THE songs, `Pavada prayathil' and `Pavadai davaniyil', were to be written today, the lyrics would not be the same.
For, the pavada has almost vanished from the Malayali girl's wardrobe.
This pleated traditional dress has been replaced by jeans, trousers, salwar kurtas, midis and skirts.
In Kerala, only the `bold' wore the salwar kurta two decades ago. And then came the invasion of the electronic media and salwar kurtas found their way into the hearts of Malayali girls.
If you want to see Malayali girls in pattu pavada-blouse sets today, then you have to be invited to a wedding. Or you should visit a temple or wait for November 1 (Kerala Piravi Day).
The pavada has its western counterpart: the skirt. What had flowed down over the ankles during the Victorian era has, over the years, transformed itself to the midi, the mini and the micro skirts, all of progressively decreasing length. Micros and minis may be the rage in Indian metros, but Thiruvananthapuram is yet to catch up with this trend.
Traditionalists, however, need not worry. A few still prefer the pavada. "I wear jeans, skirts and salwar kurtas to college," says Saumya, a student of Engineering "But I do wear pavada and half-sari (davani) occasionally. I recently got a pavada stitched. But it's unrealistic to think that pavada will be worn as it used to be 15 to 20 years ago. But things have improved from the way it was five years ago, when the pavada or the half sari was hardly seen."
On a whim, Saumya's mother bought her a Kancheevaram pavada recently.
"Wearing pavada and blouse to college is very uncomfortable and inconvenient. Getting on and off buses, in heavy pavada, is very difficult. It is a decorative outfit, and not a functional one. Hence, it is best to wear it on select occasions. I buy it only once a year, during Onam, and that's the only time I wear it; that is, if there are no marriages to attend," says Siddhi Devi, a B.Com student .
She prefers jeans and salwar kurta, as they are "very convenient to wear". But she is quick to add, "This does not mean I dislike pavada and blouse."
Even mothers don't want to force the pavada on their daughters. Says Usha, mother of 14-year-old Sharada, who studies in Holy Angels Convent, "Of course, the pavada is very beautiful and traditional, but I don't compel my daughter to wear it. And it is not like she never wears the pavada. We get her one for Onam, weddings or other occasions. At times, she herself demands that she wants to wear it to some function."

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