Here's a tribute to the one piece of cloth that protects manhood, as much as it provides comfort. Possibly written my one articulate mallu who's enjoyed the pleasure of the Lungi. Enjoy:
Just as the national bird of Kerala is the Mosquito, the national dress of her men is the '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 weddings, Onam and our biggest source of festivity - an 'official' strike on a werking day.
Lungi is simple, 'down to earth' garment, much like the mallu wearing it. A 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 a one-size-fits-all Mallus everywhere, be they from Thiruvananthapuram city, Patthanamthitta district, or gelf-returned Mallus in Kannur(Where we'll be having our 4th international airport by the way, with direct flights to many international locations like Ras al Khaimah and Jabal Umm al Ru'us)
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, which is three notches higher than Sudarshan Kriya of Zri Zri Ravi Sankar. A lungi/mundu when perfectly worn, it won't come off even in a Yeardhquake 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 as closely guarded secret like the Koko Cola's chemical X.
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 legs.
Wearing a lungi 'Half Mast' is when you wear it exposing yourself like those C grade movies of Silg Smitha, Kottan Kantha or Nylon Nalini. A mallu can play cricket, football or simbly run when the lungi is worn at half mast. Even when a dog is chasing him. A mallu can even climb a coconut tree wearing lungi in half mast. But always remember, "It's not good manners, especially for ladies from dezent families, to look up at a mallu climbing a coconut tree"- Confucius (or is it Abdul Kalam?)
The 'Lungi Wearing Mallu Union' [LUWMU, pronounced LOVE MU], an NGO which works towards the upliftment of the lungi, strongly disapprove of the GenNext tendency of wearing Bermudas under the lungi. Bermudas under the lungi is a conspiracy by the CIA. It's a disgrace to see a person wearing burmuda with corporate logos under his lungi. What they don't know is how much these corporates 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, an ideal garment for those who are scared of global warming.
A lungi/mundu 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', 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.
Well, I've never worn one in my life. I should possibly learn some breathing exercises first. And then tying a knot. And of course, learning how and when to fold it or unfold it. Promises to be the new skill I need to acquire,to live up to the long name of my birthplace - Kutuparamba, which is 14 KM from Thalaserry, which by the way is capital of the Great Indian Circus and also the birthplace of India's second fastest bowler from Kerala(just behind Sreeshant obviously), Tinu Yohanan. As you can see, it's going to be quite a handful.