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Traditional Knanaya Songs

The traditional Knanaya songs fall under the categories of wedding songs, songs of the churches (Pallikalutae pattukal) and Bible songs, Margamkali pattukal and panan pattukal. We have posted all these purathanapattukal except margamkali pattukal.

  1. Wedding songs are those songs related to Knanaya wedding customs and ceremonies especially in houses of the bride and bridegroom. The ancient songs contain the story of the immigration of Knanites under Thomas of Kana to India. Songs of marriage are sung at different occasions of marriage celebration. It includes, mailanchi ideel (beautification of the bride), Antham Charthal or Chantham charthal (beautification of the bridegroom), reception in the house after the marriage, blessing by the elders etc. They describe the immigration of the knanites to Malabar coast and events thereafter.
  2. Pallikalutae pattukal or songs of the churches: In Kerala every church at the time of its foundation or a little after it tried to keep a story of it in order to have a social and historic awareness of the foundation f the church. There was a practical need for such songs because nobody did write down the history. Hence the people composed the songs of the churches to transmit the history to the next generation. It includes the planning of the church, people involved, priests who took initiative, the day of foundation, the bishop who consecrated the church, the donor of the land etc. Thus each church has a song for its own. And on the auspicious occasions of the parishes people would sing the song.
  3. The ancient Bible songs like Vattakkalipattukal are also composed with such intentions of teaching and transmitting the Bible stories.
  4. Margamkali also form the part of the ancient songs or purathanapattu. Margamkali is a male dance preserved by Knanites. This male dance describes the story of the life and activity of the Apostle St. Thomas in India. Due to the recognition given to it by the state government as an ancient art form, it has got wide spread recognition in Kerala.
  5. Panan Pattu: Panan pattu was not formerly a part of ancient songs but lately when panan pattu was discovered and recorded that also are added to the book by Fr J. Vellian. In Kerela there was a group called Panans. Panan means one who sings. They go from house to house singing for which they may get some remuneration. When the Panan goes to Hindu homes he would sing Hindu song whereas in Christian houses they would sing Christian songs often the stories of Knai Thoma and Knanaya immigration to Indian Coast. They (Panans) used to be an awakening alarm at the royal palaces and at other places. Dr P A Thomas in 1936 printed a few lines of Panan pattu under the title Panan varvum Panan pokkum in his book History of Christians in India. In 1986 following this text Fr Jacob Vellian went around searching Panans and he found two panans one in Mulankulam and another in Piravom. They were Raman panan and Narayanan panan. They were interviewed and their texts of song were printed and published in the book Symposium on Knanites in 1987. In 2005, after the death of above mentioned panans, he found another panan named Kunjan Neelandan in the hillside 15 kms away from Thottara in Eranakulam district. His songs were filmed and recorded in a studio and they were published as DVD in Knanya Sangeethika in 2006. He, expired in 2007, was the last link in singing such Knanaya songs. And there is hardly anybody who knows the song or goes around singing such songs in families.

All the above mentioned traditional songs make the Knanites aware of their past and of their identity as a distinct ethnic community.