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Woman in half sari swinging on an Oonjal

Oonjal is a kind of swing made outside the house during Onam or thiruvathira seasons especially in the village areas. This is a main means of entertainment for the youth – both men and women during the festival seasons.

The local ‘oonjal’ is made by tying the upper ends of a rope to a tree branch and fixing a comfortable pole at the lower end of it, where people can sit. One can sit on the seat and clutch the ropes for balancing. The momentum for swinging can be achieved either by kicking at the ground using the feet or by a supporting push from a second person. The former is shown in the video.

About the costume
The woman wears a half sari, which was actually an inevitable part of traditional south Indian fashion. Later it was absorbed into the traditional Keralite fashion too. It comprises of a long skirt and blouse with the covering of a dhavani (a shawl).

These days such kinds of traditional dresses are gradually disappearing from Kerala. The wearing of such dresses like ‘pavada’ and ‘half sari’ are limited to certain occasions like ‘keralappiravi’, the birthday of the state (November 1st), Hindu marriage functions and celebrations on new year etc. Interestingly women prefer to put on casual wears like ‘churidar’ on most of the occasions. These allow easy handling and free movement of the limbs unlike the long skirt.