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This gallery contains photos of girls in pavadai chattai, the traditional south indian dress for young unmarried girls.

"But for song sequences, the pavada will not even figure in the set of costumes for Malayalam films," Revathy says. "What prevents our costume designers from using this outfit creatively? Our actresses, of course, look good in the pavada."

Aishwarya Rai and Sreedevi wore it in `Kandukonden Kandukonden' and `Devaragam' respectively. "And they looked gorgeous," Revathy adds.

Many teenaged anchors on Malayalam TV channels wear the pavada-blouse. Rimi Tomy, anchor and singer, often dons the combo.

Designer Sheela James is realistic when she says, "We cannot expect the pavada to make a comeback. To the modern girl, it is a formal dress."

One aspect that works to the advantage of the pavada is that it can be adapted and improvised to suit the wearer's taste. "This encourages young women to check it out," says James.

"The girls are keen on adding modern elements to the traditional design. That is, they want the half sari to be embroidered or the blouse to be embellished," says Indu Radhakrishnan of Studio Mrinaliny.

Both the designers acknowledge that the pavada has become a costume, almost a `uniform' for specific occasions.

Going in for salwar kurtas makes sound economic sense. They cost less than the traditional pavada-blouse. With the demand for salwar kurtas going up, the difference in prices is bound to grow.

But for girls like Kanchana of University College, Kariavattom, the pavada would disappear entirely from our campus. "I am so fond of the dress that I never miss an opportunity to wear it. There's something traditional and beautiful about the dress. It seems to carry the spirit of our culture."

Giving Kanchana company are five-year-old Shruti and seven-year-old Nivedita. The kids love pavadayum blousum, kuppi vala (glass bangles) and mulla poovu (jasmine). So, take heart, traditionalists. All is not lost. SHILPA NAIR. THE HINDU.

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