Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Folk Songs

Folk songs sung orally speak of the stories behind different regions of Kerala. The lyrics sung based on the regions are transmitted to the next generation orally. The origins of folk songs can be traced to the vocation of the people. The music of the songs is in consonance with the jobs performed by the people. Simple, ordinary words are used. As each region was identified with a particular vocation, the songs differed from region to region. The songs were sung not only to ease stress but it also told the way in which a job is to be performed and its outcome.

There are folk songs praising the Gods and admiring the form of Nature (rain, heat, lightning, thunder). Each has a distinct song. For instance, the song sung during ploughing is not the one sung during planting. Again, the song sung during the transplanting of seedling and the songs for reaping are different. Thus, each song tells a different story. Listening to the songs, we understand how to carry out farming.

Similarly, fisher folk, boatmen they have their own songs. Vilpattu, mappilapattu, vadakan pattu have stood the test of time. Sung without the support of instruments, no doubt, these songs are popular and appreciated. Sometimes, one or two instruments are played in some folk songs.

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