Oru Vanchi Paattu

(Translation on request for AM)
“Thithithaara thithithei thithei thakatheitheithom”
Now, how do I explain what this chant makes a Malayali feel? 🙂

Kuttanadu, a region in Kerala which spans most of the Alappuzha district and a slice of Kottayam district, is famous for its backwaters and houseboats. A lesser known fact is that we have 2-3 major boat races in this region. The boats used for these races are called chundan vallangal or snake boats. Snake boats are really long and hold 120-150 oarsmen, and around 25 vanchi paattu singers. The boats look like water snakes in aerial shots and hence the name. (Wiki Link). Oru Vanchi paattu literally translates to ‘a boat song’. They are fast paced songs to which the oarsmen move their oars in unison.

The most popular race is Nehru Trophy Boat Race which usually takes place on the second Saturday in August on Punnamada kaayal (lake) in Alappuzha district. The oarsmen go through vigorous training for months before the race. They need to act like a single machine to make the boat go forward at a really high speed. Here is a pretty cool video about the intense training. The race day is a highly anticipated event for Kuttanadu natives and visitors alike. People throng the lake shores early to get a good vantage point. It is a high energy sport even for spectators since rivalries between the boat clubs and their supporters have been running for generations. The boats go to places of worship of different religions along the shores to seek blessings before the race; just shows the secular nature of an event like this, enjoyed by all Malayalis irrespective of our religious diversity. Here is a 7 min live video commentary of 2017 NTBR, sounds very much like Latin American soccer commentary when someone’s about to score. 😀

Now coming back to the first point, it would be a shame if I didn’t mention Kuttanadan Punjayile (YouTube link), the iconic vanchi paattu, which is hailed as a folk song by Malayalis. Makes me tear up with nostalgia. 🙂 The vanchi paattu in Solo is an original composition by Agam, a carnatic rock band. It is fast paced with electric guitar; what’s there not to love!

To listen to the song, click play:

Paathiraa poovu venam! Aathira* raavu venam!
Paathiraa poovu venam! Aathira* raavu venam!
Paadi kalikkuvaanayi aalimaar venam
[We need the flower blooming at midnight! On the night of Aathira! (2)
We need beautiful ladies for song and dance]
Thuzhakkar anpathu venam, thonikal aayiramaayiram venam…
…kaayalil olam thullumbol!
[We need 50 oarsmen; also thousands and thousands of boats…
…when the waves dance in the lake!]

Paathiraa poovu venam! Aathira* raavu venam!
Paathiraa poovu venam! Aathira* raavu venam!
Paadi kalikkuvaanayi aalimaar venam
[We need the flower blooming at midnight! On the night of Aathira! (2)
We need beautiful ladies for song and dance]
Thuzhakkar anpathu venam, thonikal aayiramaayiram venam…
…kaayalil olam thullumbol!
[We need 50 oarsmen; also thousands and thousands of boats…
…when the waves dance in the lake!]

thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom

Paathiraa poovu venam! Aathira* raavu venam!
Paathiraa poovu venam! Aathira* raavu venam!
Paadi kalikkuvaanayi aalimaar venam
[We need the flower blooming at midnight! On the night of Aathira! (2)
We need beautiful ladies for song and dance]
Thuzhakkar anpathu venam, thonikal aayiramaayiram venam…
…kaayalil olam thullumbol!
[We need 50 oarsmen; also thousands and thousands of boats…
…when the waves dance in the lake!]

thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom

Puzhayorathaake thingivingum thoomekham ,
poothaalam thoovaanam, nenjil aaravamaayi…
[On the banks of the river, these fluffy clouds crowd like flowers,
on a thaalam** in the sky, roaring in our hearts…]
Puzhayorathaake thingivingum thoomekham ,
poothaalam thoovaanam, nenjil aaravamaayi…
[On the banks of the river, these fluffy clouds crowd like flowers,
on a thaalam** in the sky, roaring in our hearts…]
…Kuttanaadin olangal
[…the waves of Kuttanadu]
Puzhayoram neele neele chaayum, thaka thitheithaaro!
Mazhamekham neele neele chaarum, thaka theitheithaaro!
[(These waves) sway across the river banks
While the clouds rain down in length]
Puzhayoram neele neele chaayum, thaka thitheithaaro!
Mazhamekham neele neele chaarum, thaka theitheithaaro!
[(These waves) sway across the river banks
While the clouds rain down in length]
Poovili poovili aaravamaayi, kaayalil olam thullumbol
[The chants, the chants roaring, when the waves dance in the lake!]

thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom
thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom

thithithaara thitthithei thitthei thakatheitheithom

*Aathira is a star in Malayalam calendar.
** Thaalam is a round metallic plate. Flowers and other sacred things for prayers are kept on this. Here the sky is imagined to be a thaalam full of clouds.

+ Image copyright to the original uploader.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s