Kerala, a land of cultural diversity, is a complete whole made up of a blending of various religions, communities, regional cultures and language variations. Kerala culture can be compared to a chain made of different colored beads and the thread through which the beads are strung is the Malayalam language. The cultural variety of Kerala was created by its unique geographic features as it lies between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. Rich in rain forests, its ancient trade relations with foreign lands, entry of immigrant communities during different periods, agricultural tradition, cuisine and its tradition of art – literature –science and all these make the land, Kerala.

Textile Products of Kerala

Kerala’s textile industry mainly located in handloom sector. Handloom fabrics of Kerala are well known for its quality and variety. Balaramapuram Sarees (a 5.5 meter long and 1.2 meter wide narrow fabric worn by ladies), Kuthampully Sarees,Kannur Shirtings and furnishings, Alappuzha Coir mats,terry/Turkish towellings and carpets are not only the examples of its popularity but, of course,its traditional value.The textile products of Kerala are made of  pure cotton ,coir(made from coconut fiber) ,Jute,Sisal and Palm fibers.Polyester cotton blends are rarely used.

Kerala’s textile industry is depended on handlooms rather  than automatic looms due to its traditional nature.There are so many co.operative handloom societies run by the weavers ,across Kerala.These societies supply  cotton yarns(dyed/bleached),weaving accessories and other technical information required for the particular products.The weavers will produce the fabrics in hand looms, either in their home or a collective weaving shed located in the weavers co.operative society itself.The looms used to weave are pit looms(A primitive loom at floor level the shedding mechanism usually located in pits and the warp yarn is stretched parallel to the ground),frame looms and Jacquard/ Dobby looms.


  • Erettu Thorthu/Erezha Thorthu/Mangadan Thorthu

Thorthu is a towelling fabric made of cotton yarn.It absorbs the moisture quickly due to its loose is woven in plain weave using two heald shafts.the warp is drawn  1-1-2-2 order,that is ,the first two yarns are drawn through the two heald eyes of the first heald and third and fourth yarns are drawn through the two heald eyes of the second heald shaft.Then the first two yarns of the first heald shaft are drawn through the single split or dent of the reed and the third and fourth yarns of the second heald shaft are drawn through the second dent of the reed and so on.Due to this, the fabric woven will give the appearance of a mat weave in 2 and 2 order.

  • Kaili or Lungie

Kaili or Lungi is worn by the gents of Kerala.Usually made of cotton and sometimes in poly cotton blends too.It is a casual wear.The kaili or Lungi designs are either in checks or stripes of vivid colour combinations.In olden days the yarns were dyed using Naphtol/Azoic dyes,nowadays it is completely replaced with vat and reactive dyes.

  • Saree

Saree is a thin fabric woven by using fine yarns.It is used by ladies.The traditional Kerala saree has off white color. It is a highly decorative fabric woven in different styles and textures.It gives a designer endless imagination and creativity

In traditional sarees the extra weft motifs arewoven by inserting extra wefts with hands.these usually include the motifs of parrot,peacock,mango shape and small geometrical motifs.Nowadays dobbies and jaquards are playing  this role.

Saree has got two side borders usually 2.5to 5 inches in width.It has also got a cross border.Fine Zari/Jari yarn is also widely used in these sarees.

  • Double Dhothi or Double Mundu

Double Mundu or Double dhoti is gents formal wear.The dhoti has a small border and cross border, 1 to 2.5 inches wide,on both sides.Dark colors are used for these borders.The body is off white  color. Zari yarns are also used in borders and cross borders.

  • Bed Sheets and Pillows

Bed sheets and Pillows woven in fly shuttle frame looms.Jaquard looms are also used for the production.Combination of cotton and linen also used for the production.The yarns are dyed in hank form using Vat,Reactive and Natural dyes.


  • Coir products of Kerala

Kerala produces a great variety of products made out of coir as a raw material. The commercial production of coir in Kerala dates back to the ninetieth century and has become the largest cottage industry in the state, employing millions. The beginning of coir spinning wheels during the mid nineties, facilitated in increasing the production and to obtain the required yarn strength for the manufacturing of matting. The coir fibre is elastic and flexible to twist without breaking and it holds a curl as though permanently waved. The coconut contains three layers– the outer layer which is smooth and greenish is called the Exocarp; the inner layer which is the fibrous husk is called Mesocarp and the innermost layer surrounded by the hard woody layer is called the Endocarp. The coir fibre is waterproof and resists damage against salt water. The sea water and fresh water is used in the production of white coir.

  • Spinning Process

The refined fibre is accumulated in a hand-made pouch affixed to the waist of the worker. The handful of fibre is rubbed against the hands forming a twist of the fibre.  One end of the twisted fibres is looped and hooked to the motorized machine and the other end of the twisted fibres is fixed to the manual spinning machine. The fibre is automatically conveyed from the pouch to form the thread. The women worker walks backward and ply the thread by concurrently handling both the threads with both the hands to make the twine of uniform thickness. Using the manual spinning wheel, the two twisted fibre threads are spun to make the twine more thick. Finally, the twine is attached by rubbing the two twines together to form a long twine.

The coir yarn is warped in horizontal warping machine according to the number of ends required for weaving.Then this warp is wound on warp beams and taken for weaving.


Coir Geo textile is a natural remedy for large scale soil erosion.It is widely accepted because of the bio biodegradability and Eco friendly nature. Its durability,hairy surfaces gives better hold of the soil.It also allows the roots of the vegetation to pass which also enhances the surrounding areas.These are classified as woven and non woven.

Woven mats are further  divided as coir mesh matting with two shaft weaving,looped mats,latex backed coir mats.

Non woven mats are further divided in to coco logs,coir fiber beds,coir needle felts.


Kerala has around 50 forms of dances. Among these Theyyam, Thiruvathirakali, Chakyar Koothu Koodiyattam, and Ottamthullal are some of the prominent dances of Kerala. Kerala is therefore, popular for its two classical dance form ‘Kathakali’ and ‘Mohiniyattam,’ which lure tourists from world-wide. Travelogy India here provides you with some important information about the unique classical dance forms of Kerala.


Kathakali is an impressive form of classical dance originated more than 500 years ago in the southern state of Kerala. Kathakali is a perfect combination of dance, drama, music and religious theme. Kathakali is considered as one of the world’s oldest forms of theatre. In Malayalam (the local language of Kerala), Kathakali means Story-Play, “Katha-Story” and “Kali-Play”.

It will not be wrong to say that Kerala and Kathakali can be identified by each other’s name. Kathakali has been acknowledged throughout the world for its uniqueness. This dance form is generally performed by men.


A famous and sensual classical dance form of Kerala called Mohiniyattam involves graceful movements. This classical dance is performed by solo woman dancer, as the name itself says, Mohini means ‘a maiden’ and Yattam means ‘dance’. Mohiniyattam is a blend of Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, as it uses the elements of these dances. This dance is very elegant as it has gentle and graceful movements along with mesmerizing eye movements.

Kerala Traditional Costumes

Kerala tradition and culture is very influence on its neighbouring states, like Tamilnadu and Karnataka. Kerala traditional costumes are very simply and attractive. Generally they wear white or off-white costumes. On the wedding occasions they wear different red based colours. Kerala people are the combination of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. They wear the dresses according to their religious faith. The people wear the dresses respective; commonly the cloths are in cotton, which are needed comfort during hot and humid climate.

Kerala Traditional Costumes For women

Women wearing dresses tradition is quite old and still the people prefer to wear the traditional dresses. The traditional costumes are called Mundum Neriyathum. The mundu is the lower cloth, neriyathu is the blouse. The cloth is in white colour and the borders are dyed with various colours. And these borders are designed with various pictures. Most of the borders are in gold colour. The dress is like a sari. The dress borders, means the blouse border, Sari border, mundu borders are prefer to wear in same gold colour. During the festival ceremonies the colour of the blouses are divided according to the age and martial status of the women. The unmarried women wear green border blouses and the married women wear red border blouses.

The women folks of Kerala wear the Sari, which is also very popular Kerala costume. The folk costumes are available in various colours with various designs. The colours are white and off-white and other colours also equally popular.

According to the traditional changes the costumes also changing in style and comfort. At recent time the girls and women who are working in offices prefer to wear the Salwar Kameezes. Preferring to wear the traditional dresses are on the festival and other ceremonial occasions.

Kerala Traditional Costumes for Men

The traditional dresses for the men are very old, they wear the white colour costumes, which are called the Mundu. In olden days the men did not wear any cloth on the upper part of the body. The upper caste drape a piece of cloth on the shoulder. The occurring changes in the tradition and society, the men are wearing the shirt with white colour. The cloth is prepared with cotton, which makes comfort on hot climate. Kasavu Mundu is another dress, which is worn in the rural areas. The cloth is 3 to 4 metre long with silk borders.

Kerala state contains different religious and community people. The Muslim men wear a mundu in different style. When they wear mundu, then keep a traditional cap on their head.


Kerala, the land of greenery, beauty and coconuts is famous for its art, exquisite cuisines, beautiful dance forms, enchanting jewellery and clothing. Kerala has a rich and diverse culture, influenced by the religions of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.

The traditional jewellery of Kerala is made of pure Gold and is famous for its exquisitely skilled craftsmanship. The glittering Gold jewellery of Kerala reflects the dignity of rich Indian culture.

Manga Mala Necklace


A typical Manga mala necklace is made of small paisley shaped mango-shaped pendants and is the most common jewellery adorned in Kerala. It depicts the rich traditional heritage of Kerala.

Mulla Motu Necklace (Jasmine Buds Necklace)


Jasmine buds necklace or the Mulla Mottu necklace consists of a series of jasmine petals, stranded together in a form of a necklace. This traditional Kerala jewellery piece has two types of designs. The one with the plain gold over and the second one with a combination of gold and studded gemstones.

Pulinakham Mala


Pulinakham is made of glass stone. Pulinakham stands for the nails of a Tiger, therefore, Pulinakham Mala is consists of the glass stones crafted in the shape of the tiger’s nails. These are strung together to form a beautiful traditional Keralan design. This classic jewellery is usually adorned by Keralan women with the traditional Keralan saree.

Karimani Mala


Similar to Mangalsutra worn by North Indian women, Karimani mala is made up of black and gold beads and is often worn by married women in Kerala.  This traditional piece of Keralan jewellery is crafted in Gold.

Kasu or Lakshmi Mala


‘Kasu’ stands for coins and ‘Mala’ stands for a necklace, therefore Kasu Mala is crafted with a lot of coins which are strung together to give it a rich royal look.  These coins are embellished with the symbol of Goddess Lakshmi, therefore it is also known by the name of Lakshmi Haar.

Palakka Mala


Green in color, Palakka Mala is a ‘leaf’ necklace consisting of either emeralds or imitation green stones. It is also made with a combination of emerald and ruby stones. The design usually resembles a leaf having a gold border.

Nagapada Thali


It is one of the oldest traditional Keralan designs and resembles the hood of a snake which is why it is called Nagapada Thali. It consists of green colored stones or emeralds/rubies strung in a Gold chain.



Pathakam consists of a Gold pendant in a Gold chain. This beautiful piece of traditional Keralan jewellery is either made in pure gold or is studded with the stones



Poothali is made with the nature-inspired patterns and designs. It consists of rectangular pieces which are crafted with intricate flowers and leaves. It has dangling this from each piece which adds a glorious touch to an overall appeal of the necklace.



A ‘Kolusu’ is a Payal adorned by girls and women on weddings, religious and festive occasions in Kerala. Traditionally made in silver, Kolusu is available in gold as well.



Traditional Jhumkis or jhimkis are the traditional bell-shaped designer earrings, adorned by the bride in Kerala. Jhimkis or Jhumkis form a part of the temple jewellery. It is crafted in two types of designs. First one is all about ear studs in palakka (leaf) and the second one is a gold-plated earring embossed with small dangling bells.



Elakkathali is an important part of traditional Keralan wedding jewellery. Elakkathali is a heavy choker necklace worn by the bride during her wedding. Made of Gold, it is crafted with intricate designing and requires exquisite craftsmanship.

Tribes in Kerala

According to (Velappan, 1994) there are seven zones in Kerala, where tribals located. They are Kasargod, Wayanad, Attappadi, Nilambur, Parambikulam,Idukki and Travancore.

1. Kasargod: This zone includes two taluks of Kasargod district, Kasargod and Hosdurg. The major tribal groups in this area are Koragars and Maradis.

2. Wayanad: This zone includes North and South Wayanad, and the area include high altitude mountains. The major tribes inhabiting this region are Paniyars, Kurichiar, Mullukkurumar, Kattunayikkans or Thenkurumars, Wayanad Kadars, Adiyar, Kunduvadiyar, Kanalaadikal and Thachanadans.

3. Attappadi: This region includes Mannarkkad taluk of Palakkad district and has high altitude forests coming under the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve .The chief tribal groups in this region are Irular, Mudugar and Kurumbar. The government implemented Attappadi Hill Area Development Scheme for the socio-economic upliftment of the tribals and also for rejuvenating the lost greenery in the area.

4. Nilambur: This region comes under Mancheri Taluk of Malappuram district.The renowned “Cave Men of Kerala” a less civilized tribe, ‘Cholanaykkan’ inhabit here. They are located in Forests ranges of Nilambur namely, Karulai and Chunkathara. They are living in caves and are away from the main

stream. The other tribal groups in this region include Aranadans, Aalaar, Paniyar, Kurumar and Kadar. They mainly inhabit the peripheral regions.

Tourism in Kerala

For many travellers, Kerala is South India’s most serenely beautiful state. This slender coastal strip is defined by its layered landscape: almost 600km of glorious Arabian Sea coast and beaches; a languid network of glistening backwaters; and the spice- and tea-covered hills of the Western Ghats, dotted with fiercely protected wildlife reserves and cool hill stations such as Munnar. Just setting foot on this swathe of soul-soothing, palm-shaded green will slow your subcontinental stride to a blissed-out amble. Kerala is a world away from the frenzy of the rest of India, its long, fascinating backstory illuminated by historically evocative cities like Kochi (Cochin) and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

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Article Writtten By-
Ms. Bhavika Gulrajani. B.Sc. in Textiles and Apparel Designing, Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Science.
Textile Value Chain Intern. Email: