In the remote parts of Kerala there existed a branch of music called Kannokupattu. Initially, it was a song sung by the relatives and close friends of a deceased person. Gradually, it became necessary to bring people from outside (coolies) to sing ‘Kannoku’.
The songs would describe the good qualities of the dead person. The ‘singers’ would present Kannokupattu screaming poignantly. Till recently this was in practice in north Kerala. Even today in tribal hamlets during funeral rites songs are sung and dance performed.
The tribal community Malankudiyanmar of Kasaragod district will sing and dance for the eternal peace of the departed soul. The songs are accompanied by instruments like chenda, thudi, ilathalam and kuzhal. The Mudugars of Attapadi would erect a tent and keep the dead body inside and sing and dance. When the dead body is taken outside, the song is played on the kuzhal. There is a strange story behind this ritual. That is, the song is sung to lead the person safely to his / her grave. The song says: “come to the beautiful hills and valleys rich with variety of flowers…”. The song is a wonderful interpretation of how the tribal looks at death.