The Essential Sri Lankan Wedding Guide: Groom's Attire

2015 Jul 14 - by dulhan
The Sri Lankan groom's classic Kanyadan outfit is extremely special. With it's distinctive plush hat and overall regal look, the groom's wedding look is unique in South Asia.

Photo Courtesy of Mai Globe Experience

Sri Lankan Wedding: Introduction

Sri Lankan Wedding Engagement and Pre-Wedding Traditions

Sri Lankan Wedding Traditions

Sri Lankan Bridal Attire and Jewelry

Sri Lankan Groom’s Attire - You're here!

Sri Lankan Wedding Food and Desserts

This Kandyan look originates with the Kandyan royalty of the 19th century. From the plush velvet that makes up the hat and jacket, to the rich fabric of the draped cloth, the mul anduma, is made for kings and is worn only on special occasions.

Also called the Nilame costume, the Sri Lankan groom's outfit is broken up into four parts: the hat, the jacket, the mul anduma, and the shoes. The hat is a four-corner, crown-esque headdress heavily embroidered with gold and silver thread. It's made of plush, velvet fabric and features a golden tree-like ornament that extends upwards from the center of the hat.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Clapton

The jacket matches the hat and is decorated with lace work and sequins. Hats and jackets generally come in varieties of burgundy, red, blue, silver, and gold. Men and boys of all ages wear the Nilame costume for special occasions like festivals and parties in addition to weddings. The wedding costume is not always different from the costumes for other occasions, it depends on the family and regional traditions of the groom. The wedding party's groomsmen also usually wear matching Nilame costumes.

The costume's jacket has large, stiff shoulders that match the sometimes puffy sleeves of the bride's osariya. In the center of the jacket's back is a large embroidered symbol, usually a tiger like the one on the Sri Lankan flag, a Hasna swan, a peacock, or a Gurula, a two-headed bird.

Photo Courtesy of Helen Abraham Photography

Under the jacket, the groom wears a long white cloth with a frill wrapped around his waist and tied just over his belly. This is the mul anduma. It takes around three months to make the full Nilame costume and almost a full hour to drape the mul anduma. Wearing one of these outfits is extremely special and meant to commemorate milestones.

To wear the mul anduma, the groom first dons the frilled white trousers. Then a bright red cloth is draped around his waist and a kavaniya, a cream-colored cotton, silk, or muslin piece of fabric that can be anywhere between 60 and 100 yards long, is tied over everything. When properly draped, the kavaniya looks like a flower bud with multiple layers pleated over each other. All this fabric is held with a huge belt with a large buckle. A gurula is usually carved on the buckle. All three layers are gathered above the belt and knotted, creating a three-fold draping of white, red, and cream.

Finally the shoes are specially designed so the toe turns upward. Sri Lankan men accessorize their Nilame costumes with a large signet ring and a necklace.

We're almost done with the guide, all that's left is the food.