Onam: New festival, new fashion

Onam: New festival, new fashion
Long skirts or lehengas are also a valid option, often paired with solid colour tops and simple jewellery.

Onam 2019 is set to be bigger than ever, with new fashion trends taking the stage

By Natalia Ahmed

Published: Mon 9 Sep 2019, 9:46 AM

Onam is one of the biggest harvest festivals celebrated in Kerala, and has become a global phenomenon due to the number of Keralite immigrants across the globe. Over a million Keralites call the UAE their home, exporting their culture to the Gulf.

Onam, therefore, has taken on additional value in the UAE, with many Malayalee families and business owners celebrating this cultural festival. Despite having Hindu mythological roots, Keralites of all religions celebrate Onam due to its cultural value, choosing to take part in festivities with friends and family members.
Traditional Onam garments feature gold and white colours, with most sarees and mundus being plain white, with a solid strip of gold down the side.
For women, the traditional outfit is a Kasavu saree, which is plain white, with a gold border. However, modern trends have allowed women to showcase their individuality through their clothing, and many textile and clothes shops offer Onam sarees with various patterns, from Hindu deities, to mural paintings, to kathakali (masked dance) faces printed on the saree. Jewellery is common, with many women wearing gold necklaces and bangles during this occasion.

Most women with long hair tend to accessorize their hair with jasmine flowers, another Keralite tradition. The flowers look beautiful when tied into the hair, and the scent stays throughout the day.
Designers and fashion enthusiasts have attempted to introduce new elements into Onam fashion and make the clothing more fun, vibrant, and interesting. One new change is introducing other outfit sets apart from the traditional saree, including lehenga skirts, kurta tops and palazzo pants, or suits with comfortable pants.

Here, people are encouraged to try out different colours, or incorporate the white and gold into newer styles. Anarkalis are also in high demand, with white and gold being the dominant colours. For a fresh change, one could pear an onam saree with a red blouse, or an off-white and gold skirt with a dark blue top, to provide some contrast to the outfit.
For men, traditional trends dictate a plain white mundu with a thick stripe of gold on the border, paired with a raw silk shirt, preferably a darker, solid colour, or with a kurta - silk shirts can get uncomfortable in the humidity, so most people prefer cotton kurtas over silk shirts. For men, fashion trends are slowly changing, introducing modern elements in traditional costumes. The mundu, for example, can now come in different colours, featuring silver, or a mix of silver and gold. The cloth is no longer off-white with one gold stripe, but can feature tribal designs, prints, and patterns to make it more exciting and eye-catching.
In the UAE, clothes stores, textile shops, and tailors all witness a surge in demand during Onam, as it is customary to purchase new clothes, or wear the best alternative. Most tailors work overtime during Onam to provide the best tailormade clothes to those celebrating the festival, to provide maximum comfort and the perfect fit. Apart from celebrations in the home, many social groups host events in clubs, parks, and other open spaces for Malayalee immigrants to enjoy and take part in the festivities.

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