Date:05/03/2007 URL:

Kerala - Kozhikode

Delineating the Mappila culture

Maleeha Raghaviah

T.K. Hamsa

KOZHIKODE: Ask senior politician and Member of Parliament T.K. Hamza on what prompted him to write `Mappilapatinte Maduryam,' which won him the S.K. Pottekkat award instituted by the Kozhikode-based S.K. Pottekkat Award committee: the answer will be in the form of select lines from a song of Nafeesath Beevi, or any other that "touches his innermost self."

He has spoken on the subject at different platforms. On one such occasion, M.T. Vasudevan Nair suggested that he write a book on the art form.

"Can't you see the ethos in the lines? There is poetry that evokes thrill. That is what is missing in modern poetry," he says pointing to the simplicity of language in the Malayalam-Arabic dialect. "Much of modern poetry is only reporting, though this is my personal view," Mr. Hamza is quick to add.

`Mappilapatinte Maduryam' lends a new angle to the indigenous art form of Malabar Muslims. It examines the origin of this song genre, and establishes the identity of the `Mappila' in Kerala distinct from the Muslims of New Delhi or elsewhere in the country.

"My main objective of writing the book is to popularise this art form among the younger generation and may be open the door for more research," he replies to a query on how the book is different from the publications already brought out by scholars on `mappilapattu.'

"Who is a Mappila? What is the identity of this mixed community from whose culture mappilapattu originated?

"People of all castes who embraced Islam are part of this community. My work has sought to examine this aspect, and its connection to Arabic folk songs.

I have also traced the similarity of style between `mappilapattu' and `Kilipattu' of Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan. They belonged to a similar style in time and content.

"The intricacies of tune, beat, and rhythm besides the simplicity of words and language have been highlighted," he adds.

This poetry genre touches on every aspect of life, and the songs formed the basis of learning of the community. It captured their joys and sorrows, hopes and despair.

"In olden times, women of the community sang `malapattu' before going to bed. The songs were an integral part of their life touching on aspects of love, romance and passion. Modern poetry has borrowed from here too."

Asked whether the art form was male-oriented, Mr. Hamza says even in a male-dominated society of those days, there were women singers who made a name for themselves such as Puthur Amina, near Kottakkal, Mambad Biya and Kondotty Ayesha.

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