Friday, October 22, 2010

The Legendary "Lungi"

Just as the national bird of Kerala is Mosquito, her national dress is 'Lungi'. Pronounced as 'Lu' as in loo and 'ngi ' as in 'mongey', a lungi can be identified by its floral or window-curtain pattern.  'Mundu' is the white variation of lungi and is worn on special occasions like hartal or bandh days, weddings and Onam. 

 Lungi is simple and 'down to earth' like the mallu wearing it. Lungi is the beginning and the end of evolution in its category. Wearing something on the top half of your body is optional when you are  wearing a lungi. Lungi is a strategic dress. It's like one-size-fits-all bottoms for Keralites.
 The technique of wearing a lungi/mundu is passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth like the British Constitution. If you think it is an easy task wearing it, just try it once! It requires techniques like breath control and yoga that is a notch higher than sudarshan kriya of AOL. A lungi/mundu when perfectly worn won't come off even in a quake of 8 on the Richter scale. A lungi is not attached to the waist using duct tape, staple, rope or Velcro. It's a bit of mallu magic whose formula is a closely guarded secret like the Coca Cola concoction.
 A lungi can be worn 'Full Mast' or 'Half Mast' like a national flag. A ’Full Mast' lungi is when you are showing respect to an elderly or the dead. Wearing it at full mast has lots of disadvantages. A major disadvantage is when a dog runs after you. When you are wearing a lungi/mundu at full mast, the advantage is mainly for the female onlookers who are spared the ordeal of swooning at the sight of hairy and also skinny legs.

 Wearing a lungi 'Half Mast' is when you wear it exposing yourself like those C grade movie starlets. A mallu can play cricket, football or simply run when the lungi is worn at half mast. A mallu can even climb a coconut tree wearing lungi in half mast. "It's not good manners, especially for ladies from decent families, to look up at a mallu climbing a coconut tree"- Confucius (or is it Abdul Kalam?)
 Most mallus do the traditional dance,Kudiyattam. Kudi means drinking alcohol and yattam, spelled as aattam, means random movement of the male body. Note that 'y' is silent. When you are drinking, you drink, there is no 'y'. Any alcohol related "festival" can be enjoyed to the maximum when you are topless with lungi and a towel tied around the head. "Half mast lungi makes it easy to dance and shake legs" says  Candelaria Amaranto, a Salsa teacher from Spain after watching  'kudiyaattam' .
 The 'Lungi Wearing Mallu Union' [LUWMU, pronounced LOVE MU], an NGO which works towards the 'upliftment' of the lungi, strongly disapprove of the Gen -Next tendency of wearing bermudas under the lungi. Bermudas under the lungi are a conspiracy by the CIA. It's a disgrace to see a person wearing bermuda with corporate logos under his lungi. What they don’t know is how much these Corporations are limiting their freedom of movement and expression.

  A mallu wears lungi round the year, all weather, all season. A mallu celebrates winter by wearing a colourful lungi with a floral pattern.
 Lungi provides good ventilation and brings down the heat between legs.  A mallu is genuinely worried of global warming more than anyone else in the world.

  A lungi can be worn any time of the day/night. It doubles as  blanket at night. It also doubles up as a swing, swimwear, sleeping bag, parachute, facemask while entering/exiting toddy shops, shopping basket and water filter while fishing in ponds and rivers. It also has recreational uses like in 'Lungi/mundu pulling',very much like tugging the rope events, a pastime in households having more than one male member. Lungi pulling competitions are held outside toddy shops all over Kerala during Onam and Vishu. When these lungis are decommissioned from service, they become table cloths. Thus the humble lungi is a cradle to grave appendage.

Courtesy Abdul Wahab


Anonymous said...

haaaa haaa
do you have laughing gas spraying on your commenters..

Too good..

The Holy Lama said...

ROFL. You summed it up and unearthed the cospiracy. You win two Kitex lungis sponsored by LUWMU

Balachandran V said...

When honorably discharged from service, the Lungi, is cut to pieces and used for moping floors! There are other variations too like the closed lungi. Another interesting fact is that the Burmese, Bangladeshis and the lot are also keen lungiyists! Another point is the Lungi is the commoner among clothes - its infra dig to wear it anywhere other than your home. Some 'aristocratic' families in north Kerala have banned (!) lungi from their households!

Shilpa Garg said...

OMG!!! Hilarious!! Tooooooooo Good!! :D

Ashok Menath said...

Bu..ha..ha… a great piece. By this post you’ve proved that you’re not totally insensitive to the sensibilities of common folk like me. Thanks.

Apart from Burmese and Bangladeshis, the Sardarjee farmers of rural Punjab are also lungiyists.

The ‘aristocrats’ banned lungi ?Though my mundu wearing skills are world class, I don’t usually wear the lungi. Think I’ll have to switch over, lest I’ll be branded an aristocrat!!!

Tomz said...

who's dis abdul wahab..i was trying to get his email to appreciate him for writing this fantastic post..

Insignia said...

Oh my God....Hilarious!! I was laughing throughout.

I have always commented about Lungi/Vesti wearing style of Tamil actor Rajkiran. :-)

The lungi wearing style in Thirunelveli is also unique.

Thoroguhly enjoyed reading this piece. :-)

RGB said...

Ha, ha...(rolling on floor)...ha, ha! Kudiattom, eh? Funtastic is all I can gather myself to say...hee, hee!

kaalpanique said...

enjoyed that. it shows there is a humourist lurking in that mind! it must be the simplest of all garbs! and then there is the contemporary renovation that women wear.. a wrap around that ties it up with a twine!

sm said...

excellent write up
thanks sharing info on lungi

anilkurup said...

To all

By far the single largest comments that any post on this Blog has received in one single day.I do not understand why this piece of fabric holds such sway .

@ pinashpinas
Thanks , but I ceased to wear lungis long ago. A pair pyjamas or Bermudas pls- I'm with the CIA.

@ Bals
What is not Aristocratic about this piece of cloth?

@ Shilpa Garg

Good to know you enjoyed

@ Ashok Menath

Try an intro in Zambia.

@ Tomz

@ Insignia,

Next time you go on your trek perhaps you can explain the locals about the trekking comforts of the lungi. ha .

Keep laughing

@ Kaalpanique

Innovative ideas do come across.

@ SM

Thanks , as you can see somebody shared this with me.

Sukanya said...

Funny, thoughtful & 'down to earth' writing about Lungi.
In some parts of Kerala it is mentioned as Kyli.

anilkurup said...

@ Sukanya

Yes kayli I forgot to insert that usage

Anonymous said...

WOW! Never thought someone can actually write a post on Lungi! Ha ha...I can't stop laughing. The Bermudas part is too good! :)

Smitha said...

ROFL! That was hilarious!

Sakhi Shah said...

Wow - this was hilarious. :D

Senthilkumar said...

HIlarious chetta...

Anonymous said...

whattay funnie way to describe the lungie - never paid so much attention to it ..... guess there is so much to write about Indian mens couture than we know :) ..... cheers Trupz

dr.antony said...

I got late.
I have strong objections." It is not good manners to look up...." is taken from my autobiography "A Mally Diary" published in 2000 by Penguin.I had written the story of my marriage and how my wife decided to marry me after she looked up.I didnot want such unfortunate events to happen to Mallus wearing Lungis.

Mallus also wear lungis at night when they jump fences.Modern Mallus only wear Bermudas these days due to shortage after they started exporting lungis to the US.Clinton secretly used to wear lungi at his oval office because the FBI had recommended it was most suitable for his activities.

anilkurup said...

@ Jyothi
@ Smitha
@ Sakhi
@ Senthilkumar
@ balwgh

Thanks and good that you folks enjoyed this pick

@ dr Antony,

Doc now I understand how the wedding was arranged. The lungi played apart. And as for Clinton wearing the lungi while in the oval office , ha he is ingenuous to ideas that are convenient !!!

Prateek said...

More than LOL'abe. :D

anilkurup said...

@ Prateek

Thanks for the visit

Anonymous said...

The opposition to wearing bermuda under the lungi reminds me of the Devils in Skirts regiment of Carry on Khyber.It certainly is blasphemy for the Love Mu association. LOL!

anilkurup said...

Hey Anonymous,

I would appreciate if you comment and leave your name.

kavita said...

Hilarious ! A fun tribute to Lungi .

anilkurup said...

@ Kavita,

Thanks for the comment

Obsessivemom said...

.. 'upliftment of the lungi'... OMG hilarious... loved it.

Sattanathan said...

Superb, Sir!

Also loved the way you slipped in "staple" and "parachute".

Doesn't calling it an appendage go against the "spirit" of the article ? :P

Would like to be enlightened by Insignia about the uniqueness of lungi-wearing style in Tirunelveli (assuming it is the place in Tamil Nadu) because I live there.

abin said...

Ultimate!!!!.. ROFL..

GEORGES said...

Unlike bermuda which is singular at the top and plural at the bottom, lungi is singular from top to bottom. Personally I prefer to wear lungi, which ever part of the world I go. But due to the extreme cold conditions here, I am unable to 'Half Mast' my lungi even while I am inside my house.

The satisfaction of untying the knot myself in the evening after a long day without a single re-tie between morning to evening is beyond description.

Anonymous said...

You copied it. It is in circulation for almost 2 years. You should mention the source as a compliment to the author. You can get it by copy pasting the content in to google

anilkurup said...

Hello Annonymous

Please open your eyes wide you will note at the bottom of the Post the credit for the Post.
Now I have also mentioned before that it will be proper if you comment with your Identity and not like a face less coward sleazy rat.This is a forum for open and cultured discussion, debate and opinions. And decency calls for participating with ones identity open. The Post is not even censored.
So think it over and chose between being a open person or a coward.

R said...

Hey the two anonymous are diff. I commented about the carry on khyber wala thing. So please don't generalize all the anonymous comments. I really liked your post. :)

Varsha said...


You have left out the National Time Pass or Kerala....changing lungi from half mast to full mast....

Nikhil said...

Lungi can also fight global warming.
When you wear lungi it is all airy and well ventillated. You don't require an AC. Its the AC selling corporates who are behind all this anti-lungi campaign. *in mallu tone*booooorshwaaaasi

Rashmi Nair said...

I could never entirely understand the whole concept behind half lungi's .. and display of "legs" ... :P ... but I think I do now! .. and its still weird. Seriously ROFL! :D hahahaha.

amalg999 said...

The Legendary Lungi is not the work of a single person, but a contributions by a group of Madras Christian College Alumni. Each one of them adding and improvising a few points, now and then and finally bring it out as a hilarious article.

I came across a quote from some book, read long ago, about another similar dress : the Scottish kilt. the author said " the Scottish kilt is good for fornication and diarrhea" ! The same could be said of our LUNGI !!!

Bichu Muttathara said...

The blog post is hilarious and wonderful. This has been published in the blogpost column of Sakaal Times, Pune, Maharashtra.
Will you allow us to publish it in our w-monthly Mind Tree?
Please give up the permission to publish the blog post.
Keep bloooooogggggging|||||||||||||||

amalg999 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amalg999 said...

I suppose it would be ok, ONLY if the credit is given to the MADRAS CHRISTIAN COLLEGE ALUMNI. Great guys with very good sense of humor and clever use of language !

KGC said...


Usha Menon said...

Hi Anil,I read your post and found it interesting.You have written it in a lighter vein,which makes it all the more amusing. Mr.Menon calls Lungi ,'A versatile dress' but some how I dont like it.I dont approve of wearing a lungi in public.It can be worn inside the four walls of ones house.However I understand that it is the dress of the richest and poorest poorest in Kerala.

anilkurup said...

@ Usha Menon,

Please check the note at the end of the post . The credits are for other source. I only stumbled upon an article and felt it was wonderful so , I borrowed and posted on the blog.
So it is not my creation.
Nevertheless the ubiquitous lungie is much maligned and longed, it is a liability and a wonderful asset .

Loco mente said...

I was ROFL and nodding... Loved the ending note... Lungi as table cloth... You didnt mention that after serving as table cloth, it will become cleaning cloth... Until it dies away!

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