Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Mappila pattu or Mappila songs are rhythmic songs popular among the Muslim community of northern Kerala. Malabar Muslims are enriched with their own literary tradition written in ‘Arabi-Malayalam’ language and Mappila Pattu is the poetic genre of this great literary tradition.  

Mappilappattu is hence a song which depicts the cultural tradition of Muslim community especially from north Malabar. These songs come with a blend of Kerala’s folk songs and Arabic musical tradition and have been influenced by both oral and written tradition of the region. The practice of Mappila songs happened along with a parallel literary tradition prevalent in Malayalam language, Manipravalam (literary style with a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam).

Malappattu – songs in praise of pious personalities, Urudi – songs telling the events of war, Viruthangal – songs in praise of god, Kissukal – songs narrating the stories of prophets of Islam, Khessukal – romantic ballads, Marriage songs are the different kinds of Mappila songs popular in Kerala.  

Popular for romantic songs set in the tune, Ishalukal, the mapplia songs use words and phrases borrowed from other languages like Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Hindi, Tamil, Sanskrit and Kannada, though they are basically sung in an Arabic-Malayalam language.

Early literary work popular for Mappila songs was Muhyidheen Mala, written by Khasi Muhammed of Kozhikode. It tells the story of Sufi saint Muhyidheen Abdul Khader Gilani and was written in 1607. Another noted name was that of Kunhayan Musaliyar of Thalassery. His work Nool Mala, tells the story of Muhammed Nabi. And his most famous one was Kappappattu, the first printed and published Mapplia song book and in this he has compared the life journey of human body to a voyaging vessel in the ocean.

The most popular poet in ‘Arabi-Malayalam’ is Moinkutty Vaidyar. The famous work of Moinkutty Vaidyar is Badre Pattu written in 1876 and which has almost 88 ishals or tunes. This work helped to evoke patriotism among the Muslims of Malabar. Many of his Mappilappattu capture the beauty of fantasy and romanticism apart from a reflection of ardent religious faith and patriotism. Events from history are another common theme. Vaidyar’s most popular work is Badarul Muneer, which is a romantic ballad. Hunsul Jamal, Udhudpada, Malappuram Pattu, Jinnpada, Kizhathi Mala, Elippada, Hijra Pattu are his other works.

Chettuva Pareekutty, Chakkiri Moideenkutty, Pukkottil Hyder, Nallalam Beeran, T. Ubaid are some of the popular Mappila song writers. A few female writers also tried their hands are P.K. Haleema, V. Ayishakutty, Kandathil Kunjamina and so on.

Mappilappattu is an inevitable part of most music concerts and cultural extravaganzas held in the not only among Muslim brotherhood but all around the State.

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