Vennila Chandanakinnam

(Part of the initiative #learnthroughlyrics with @eli.kutty on Instagram)
Shankar Das, a pompous rich man from Bombay comes to settle down in his hometown in Kerala. He throws his weight around and makes sure everyone in the idyllic backwater village comes to know about him by handing out free money and conducting a welcoming party for himself. One of his friends Ambujakshan, a tailor and amateur novelist, meets Shankar for the free money handout without realizing who he is. Shankar reveals to Ambujakshan that he’s Kutty Shankaran, who used to be a helper boy for a rich land owner in the area. In this very popular song from the movie Azhakiya Ravanan, Shankar reminisces about time spent with Anuradha, the daughter of his previous master and his childhood sweetheart for whom he still carries a torch. The lyrics take you through the nostalgic times of childhood spent in a village with games and pretend play.

To listen to the song, click play:

Vennilaa chandanakinnam punnamada kaayalil veene
kunjilam kayyil melle kori edukkan vaa
[The sandalwood bowl of moonbeams fell into the Punnamada lake
come to fetch it with your tiny soft palms]
Mundakan+ koythu kazhinju aattakili pokum neram
manjani thooval kondoru koodorukkan vaa
[After the mundakan rice harvest, when the baya weaver bird leaves
come to make a nest with those yellow feathers]
Kaali meyyunna pullannikkattil, kanni maanga kadichu nadakkam
kaattin paadasarangal kilukkaam, kunni manjaadi kunnileraam
[In the pullanni* jungle where the cattle grazes, let’s wander nibbling on baby mangoes
let’s jingle the anklets of breeze, let’s get on top of hills where kunni and manjaadi** trees grow]

Vennilaa chandanakinnam punnamada kaayalil veene
kunjilam kayyil melle kori edukkan vaa
[The sandalwood bowl of moonbeams fell into the Punnamada lake
come to fetch it with your tiny soft palms]
Mundakan koythu kazhinju aattakili pokum neram
manjani thooval kondoru koodorukkan vaa
[After the mundakan rice harvest, when the baya weaver bird leaves
come to make a nest with those yellow feathers]
Kaali meyyunna pullannikkattil, kanni maanga kadichu nadakkam
kaattin paadasarangal kilukkaam, kunni manjaadi kunnileraam
[In the pullanni* jungle where the cattle grazes, let’s wander nibbling on baby mangoes
let’s jingle the anklets of breeze, let’s get on top of hills where kunni and manjaadi** trees grow]

Pinnil vannu kannu pothaam, kandu ennu kallam chollaam
kaanatha kadhakalile raajavum raaniyum aakaam
[(I’ll) come from behind and close your eyes (with my palms), (I’ll) lie that I saw (you when we play hide-n-seek)
(We’ll) pretend to be the king and queen of unseen stories]
Onavillum kaikalil aenthi oonjaal aadam
[Let’s get on the swing holding onavillu***]
Peeli neerthunna kolamayil aayi, mukil odunna mettil olikkam
swarna meen aayi neenthi thudikkam, vanchi paattinte vinnil aeraam
[Let’s become the peacock who spreads it’s feathers, and hide in meadows where clouds pass by
let’s swim excitedly as gold fishes, let’s sing boat songs on high]

Vennilaa chandanakinnam punnamada kaayalil veene
kunjilam kayyil melle kori edukkan vaa
[The sandalwood bowl of moonbeams fell into the Punnamada lake
come to fetch it with your tiny soft palms]
Mundakan koythu kazhinju aattakili pokum neram
manjani thooval kondoru koodorukkan vaa
[After the mundakan rice harvest, when the baya weaver bird leaves
come to make a nest with those yellow feathers]

Kannaaram pothikalikkam, mannappam chuttu vilambaam
Chakkara maavin chottil kotthankal****aadaam ennum
[Let’s play blindman’s buff, let’s make and serve mud cakes
Under the sweet mango tree, lets play a game of stones]
Aalilakal naamam chollum ambalam kaanaam
[Let’s watch the temple where the peepal leaves chant prayers]
Naale kinnara kuruvikku choroonu, pinne annarakannanu paaloottu
Doore appooppan thaadikku+ kalyaanam, kutti aanakku neeraattu
[Tomorrow is rice feeding ceremony for tiny sparrow, then milk feeding for the squirrel
The fluffy seed is getting married far away, and the baby elephant is getting bathed]

Vennilaa chandanakinnam punnamada kaayalil veene
kunjilam kayyil melle kori edukkan vaa
[The sandalwood bowl of moonbeams fell into the Punnamada lake
come to fetch it with your tiny soft palms]
Mundakan koythu kazhinju aattakili pokum neram
manjani thooval kondoru koodorukkan vaa
[After the mundakan rice harvest, when the baya weaver bird leaves
come to make a nest with those yellow feathers]
Kaali meyyunna pullannikkattil, kanni maanga kadichu nadakkam
kaattin paadasarangal kilukkaam, kunni manjaadi kunnileraam
[In the pullanni* jungle where the cattle grazes, let’s wander nibbling on baby mangoes
let’s jingle the anklets of breeze, let’s get on top of hills where kunni and manjaadi** trees grow]

+Mundakan is a season for planting rice which is usually harvested in Dec/Jan.

*Pullanni (Wiki Link) is a shrub native to Kerala. It grows freely in vacant lands and is used as a medicinal plant.
** Kunni (Wiki Link) or rosary pea plant is a type of climber native to tropical climates which produces small red-black seeds called kunnikuru in Malayalam. Manjadi (Wiki Link) is a tree which produces red seeds also native to tropical climates. Children are used to collecting kunnikuru and manjadi kuru for playing with them.
*** Onavillu is a traditional single string musical instrument made during the Onam season. Here is an article about Onavillu if you are interested in finding out more about it.
****kotthankal is a type of game kids play with stones. Here is a YouTube video of how it is played.
+Appooppan Thaadi directly translated to Grandfather’s beard. It is commonly used to refer to the fluffy seeds of plants like milkweed. They are very light and can float around if carried by wind – Picture

++Image copyright to the original uploader.

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