One can say that Onam is the beginning of the festive season in south India. Most people associate Oname with elaborate pookolams (flower rangolis ) and sadya (the traditional feast). My favourite memory of Onam is a day-long celebration ending with a delicious sadya at 5.00 p.m.
Of course, for most of us, a festival means time to dress up. And Onam is unique when it comes to clothes. No other festival in India has its own colour.
The colours of Onam — ivory and gold — are derived from the kasavu sari and look wonderful on all skin tones. A more contemporary way to dress up this Onam would be to retain the colour palette and experiment with fabrics and accessories.
If you’re a fan of the sari look, go for a soft ivory Chanderi with a gold border instead of a traditional Kerala cotton sari. Even better would be an ivory Chanderi with a Ganga-Jamuna border or a gold-and-silver border. Two tones are trending so this is your chance to shine.
The blouse that goes with a Kerala sari needs a special mention. A decade ago, most women wore a red or a green blouse with the kasavu sari. But, now, the blouse is the mainstay of the look. What I love about the kasavu sari is the different looks you can create by just changing the blouse. Scout for a variety of fabrics to make a set of perfect blouses for different occasions. The morning look can be a simple geometrical patterned blouse and, in the evening, the same sari can be paired with a brocade blouse with lots of embroidery.
Time for a temple visit? Pair the kasavu with an arakku (deep red) kalamkari blouse. The traditionalannapakshi pattern will set off the plain sari. Patchwork blouses are also very fashionable now. You can mix and match vintage brocades with Mangalgiris to create unique blouses.
Those who are more comfortable in a salwar-kameez can experiment with an ivory anarkali and a gold Chanderi hand-embroidered dupatta . The latter accentuates the entire ensemble. If you want to give the salwar a modern twist, wear it with palazzos and a dupatta . For a formal look, you could wear the top over a pair of coloured cigarette pants in gold Tussar. For a more fun look, wear an ivory tunic with a gold border over a crushed silk full-length skirt embellished with tiny pom-poms at the bottom.
Accessories are very important to get the Onam look right. Traditionally, women wear gold jewellery but you can be trendy and experiment. Those wearing the anarkali can wear big bold gold-dipped jhumkasand dainty pearls. But keep the necklace simple and elegant. Another way is to pair the salwar-kameez with a beautiful gold-dipped cuff and a pair of simple earrings. Or make heads turn by wearing an edgy statement necklace with your Kerala sari. A finishing touch is a strand of fragrant jasmine flowers in your hair.
Onam has also inspired film fashion. In movies like Aisha and Dil Se , Sonam Kapoor and Preity Zinta looked stunning in ivory saris and gold-toned jewellery.
-ShriVyshnavi Annush for The Hindu MetroPlus on 27th August 2015