Literally the word Mappila refers to the Muslim
community of north Kerala and Pattu means songs. The Mappilappattu
is hence a song sung by this community during their religious celebrations as
well as on other occasions.
Passed down generations through an oral tradition, the earliest Mappilappattu
can be traced back to 700 years ago. The effort to record them however, is a
recent one. Thanks to the works of T . Ubaid (1908 - 1972), a famous poet and
social reformer, who successfully recorded many Mappilappattu.
Many of the Mappilappattu capture in them the beauty of fantasy apart
from a reflection of ardent religious faith. Events from history are another
The 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. Sometimes a single sentence is composed of words
taken from more than three or four languages.
For centuries these songs were the sole property of the Muslims as the Arabic
language was not familiar to non-Muslims. Now-a-days, however, the Mappilappattu
is an inevitable part of most music concerts and cultural extravaganzas held in
Dr. K. Omanakutty, Department of
Music, University of Kerala.