Mappila Paattu or Mappila Song is a folklore Muslim song genre rendered to lyrics in colloquial Mappila dialect of Malayalam laced with Arabic, by the Mappilas of Malabar. Mappila songs have a distinct cultural identity, while at the same time, remain closely linked to the cultural practices of Kerala. The songs often used words from Persian, Urdu, Tamil, Hindi apart from Arabic and Malayalam, but the grammatical syntax was always based on Malayalam. They deal with themes such as religion, love, satire and heroism, and are often sung at occasions of birth, marriage and death. Mappila Paattu form an integral part of the heritage of Malayalam literature today and is regarded by some as the most popular branch of Malayalam literature, enjoyed by all communities in Kerala.
Mappila songs have been in circulation or over seven centuries, with the first dated work Muhyidheen Mala atrributed to Qadi Muhammad of Kozhikode in 1607 A.D. Thereafter a large number of literary materials was produced in this medium; one authority has calculated that of these more than 1600 items, complete or fragmentary, are known as of 1976. Over the centuries, various types of Mappila Pattu were composed, in accordance with the religious and political surroundings in the lives of the Mappilas of Malabar. The early centuries were primarily based on devotional works, while the colonial era was marked by the battle song genre called Padappattu. Various other categories also grew during the centuries with subjects ranging from romantic ballads and marriage songs to philosophical ideas, sea journeys and even flood ordeals.
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