KANNUR: Nowadays, it’s rare to hear folk songs being sung by contestants belonging to the tribal communities. So, when a group of tribal girl students rendered the folk song ‘panthal patt’ at the state school youth festival on Sunday, not only was the audience enthralled, but a record was also created as the team from Government High School at Balal in Kasargod won an ‘A’ grade, a first for tribal students.
Their raw, uninhibited way of singing, the rustic charm of the lyrics, the sheer energy, the robust rhythm, indigenous instruments, the tribal costume and the astonishing variety made it quite an experience both for the ears and the eyes of the audience.
The students were trained by Shinjith Bangalam, who has been a part of the field for the last 18 years.
“The children’s fascination for the folk songs of their tribe came out during the cultural activities in the school last year,” said Shinjith. He then trained them songs of mangalam kali which are sung during wedding ceremonies, which won them an ‘A’ grade at the district level, where the competition was tough.
“When we appeared on stage for the first time, we felt a little afraid and also shy, but our friends said we performed well,” said 10th standard student Athira M, who led the team. “The school festival has ensured that the mangalam kali songs would no longer remain unheard,” said Shinjith. The folk song contest, which was held on the main stage, was the biggest attraction on the final day of the festival.
The packed venue was a testimony to the popularity of folk songs. The themes varied from maran pattu (sung for a safe pregnancy), pulluvan patt (sung for protection from the serpent’s curse) to kaliyattam pattu (sung in Malabar for religious harmony).