The lungi is a part and parcel of the Sri Lankan clothing.
It is not exclusive to Sri Lanka as it is seen also in other South East Asian countries such as India. However, Sri Lanka is the country where the lungi is now commonly worn by women not just men. It is not just the older generations which wear the lungi; now even the younger generations have taken upon themselves to celebrate their Sri Lankan culture by donning the lungi at Sri Lankan cultural events.
However while sporting the lungi has become a trendy fashion statement, they’re not many younger women who are willing to wear the lungi in their day- to – day lives.
This is actually quite puzzling if you think about it; the lungi is comfy, hassle-free and fitting, not to mention it is specifically made for the warmer climate. While it does not give the same mobility as jeans it is not nearly as restricting as a pencil skirt and can easily be paired with black leggings underneath.
Isn’t it ironic that the lungi is religiously presented as the epitome of Sri Lankan luxury at Sri Lankan fashion shows, but rarely makes an appearance as actual street wear fashion among young women?
I remember when I used to go to College to study and I would wear my lungi, I would actually be stared at on the street like I was a purple-eyed alien. I think I might have gotten fewer stares if I was wearing a leather Catwoman outfit! But it wasn’t the younger age group which was starting … but the older men and women who would stare on the streets. I have no idea why… I don’t think they even realize what they were doing…
But it made me realize that the lungi is seriously underappreciated. It’s seen as novelty clothing to be worn for instagram pictures rather than wearable fashion today.
Criss Jami once said “In each generation, there is this certain wisdom of the ages that gets reburied in the fleeting drives of modernity; then, like a diamond in the rough, it is yet again unearthed by a very small minority who not only restores it but also polishes it and presents it as something new, something highly valuable and refreshing as understood by the current.”
Perhaps one day the lungi won’t just be seen inside Sri Lankan cultural events but back on the streets!