‘Vinchi Pattukal’ A Diverse Cultural Representation of the Mappila Khalasis in Kerala

Nasreena P.K

The Khalsis played a significant role in the maritime history of Malabar, boasting a distinct identity for their unparalleled technical expertise in handling heavy goods. The origin of Khalasi is seen as a fusion of Arab and local indigenous groups, with the term Khalasi being derived from the Arabic word Khalasi which means black and white together. Khalasis remained relevant and adapted to the changing times by embracing modern technology and integrating it into their work. Despite the shift in job roles, their expertise in handling equipment and their skills were still highly valued. From the initial period, Khalasis played a vital role in the coastal areas of Beypore and gradually extended their settlements to other coastal areas like Chaliyam, Karuvanthuruthy, and Feroke, depending on the possibilities of their work. Their expertise in using these tools made their work much simpler and more efficient. Several traditional songs and chants associated with their heavy work are known as “Vinchipattukal” “Ambapattukal” and “Elayya pattukal,” which signify their historical connection with their profession. The Panipattu or Vinchi pattukal were not limited to just artistic expressions; they served a greater purpose in creating a sense of unity and strength among the laborers. The chief purpose of the Khalasis using work songs is to gain energy and motivation for their work. These songs provide a source of strength for the workers. These work songs, such as Amba pattukal, play a vital role in the Khalasi community, representing their culture, customs, and collective spirit. The songs serve as a reminder of their shared heritage and inspire unity among Khalasis making them an essential element of their cultural identity.

Key Words: Khalasis, Muppan, Vinchipattukal, Daver, Kappi, Ambapattukal, Elayyapattukal, Panipattu.

The Khalasis, played a significant role in the maritime history of Malabar.  They had a distinct identity for their technical expertise in handling heavy goods. However, with changing times and the transformation of coastal areas, the significance of Khalasi community gradually faded from the mainstream maritime history of Malabar. Despite being a major social group in the Malabar coastal region, their role in Kerala’s maritime history remained largely unexplored. This article tries to shed light on the significance of the social history of Malabar. The present study attempts to explore the uniqueness of Khalasis traditional work song, known as vinchi pattukal. When we look into the different aspects of khalasi work culture, definitely have to focus on their settlements. This article tries to analyse the historical significance of their coastal settlements. The primary objective of this paper is to preserve their legacy, highlighting their contributions to Kerala’s cultural heritage, which has remained unnoticed.

Tracing the Roots:  Historical Exploration of the Khalasi Community

The Arabs were the most significant contributors to the coastal trade and the cultural history of Kerala. Even before the rise of Islamic expansion, Arabs played a crucial role in commercial ties with Kerala. Both Kerala and Arabs share the centuries-old heritage of trade and cultural exchange. The great commercial relations between Kerala and the Arab world were one of the main reasons for the establishment of Arab settlements on the seashore of Kerala. The dynamic trading culture influenced the Malabar Coast to open up a new space for diverse religions. During the early period of Islamic emergence in Kerala, the construction of Muslim mosques showed architectural similarities with Hindu temples, representing a level of assimilation of Hindu- Muslim community. 

Arab traders came to Kerala’s seashores to trade and cater to the needs of the large wooden boats. They were settled in various coastal regions of Malabar. During that time, they married local women, and this led to the formation of a new marriage tradition in Kerala. The marriage was known as Mutha marriage This custom of marriage was well-known in the region of Malabar. The mutha marriage was a conventional practice that was not comparable to any other custom prevalent at that time in Malabar. Mutha marriage was not considered regular marriages and did not involve customary rituals. Arab traders, who temporarily settled in the coastal regions with the intention of living there for a certain period to carry out their trade and fulfill their needs. So, the Arab traders engaged in mutha marriages. This kind of marriage had several distinctive features. As a result, a new generation was born with a mixed heritage of both Arab and local communities. The offspring born through this relationship are considered to have a mixed heritage, with both Arab and indigenous backgrounds. They are seen as a fusion of Arab and local groups known as Khalasi. The term Khalasi is derived from the Arabic word Khilasiyy which means black and white together. The word is reflecting the acknowledgment of the mixed heritage of the children born from these marriages (personal interview, Haasan Koya, 26th January, 2023).

Beypore was one of the most significant ports town in ancient Kerala. From the early period, Khalasis played a vital role in the coastal areas of Beypore. Gradually they extended their settlements to other coastal areas like Chaliyam, Karuvanthuruthy, and Ferok, depending on the possibilities of their work. Their technical skills, physical strength, and expertise in performing heavy physical tasks on both land and sea made them a vital part of different labor-intensive projects (C.P. Musthafa, 2019, 337). The technical skills possessed by Khalasis allowed them to tackle challenging tasks on both sea and land, along with their counterparts in other labor fields. They held a significant position in the labor sector during that period. However, as technology advanced, their exclusive importance gradually diminished, and scope of their work underwent changes accordingly. Still, they remained relevant in certain specific workspaces that required their expertise. 

Khalasis were used traditional methods and equipment such as wooden beams, coir ropes, chain blocks and kappi to lift and move heavy loads. Their specialized knowledge and skill in handling such equipment allowed them to control and manage extensive weights effectively. All works was led by their Muppan (Head of particular Khalasi group) and they performed challenging tasks with the utmost dedication. Their settlements were mainly concentrated in the coastal areas, from the southern regions of Malabar to the northern parts. They strategically chose locations that offered significant work opportunities. Khalasis’ local knowledge and expertise in dealing with various issues helped them efficiently execute their work tasks, which varied depending on regional requirements. They adapted their work based on the specific challenges and opportunities present in each region. 

The nature of jobs is that Khalasis used to handle heavy mechanics. They were skilled laborers using various tools and equipment to lift heavy objects and transport them from one place to another. With the help of simple tools and their experience, they were capable of carrying out demanding tasks efficiently. They were highly esteemed in their profession (Muhammad Sadham Chaliyam, 2013, 120). During the modern period, traditional occupations transformed and modern machinery took over many tasks in different industries. However, Khalasis remained relevant and adapted to the changing times by embracing modern technology and integrating it into their work. Despite the shift in job roles, their expertise in handling equipment and their skills were still highly valued. Over the years, Khalasis have established their flexibility by effectively incorporating modern machinery into their work without losing their traditional importance. They continue to be an integral part of society, living with great significance and contributing to various industries without losing their essential skills. 

From the early days, Beypore served as the primary center for shipbuilding in India, and this is why the Khalasi community became more centralized in this region. Their skills were essential for both ship construction and later launching the ships into the sea. They possessed the expertise to handle heavy loads on both land and water. Khalasis were adept at performing challenging tasks in the sea and on the coast with equal competence. There are two divisions within the Khalasi community. One division is involved in land-based works, including railway work, construction, huge flat air condition work, factory machine erection work, and rescue operations at sites where accidents involving vehicles occur. Their knowledge and competence in managing complicated tasks that were beyond the capabilities of machines were recognized throughout different parts of Kerala. In regions such as Chaliyam, Karuvanthiruthy, Feroke, Thazhekkad, Pakkumkara, Muzhuppilangad, Valapattanam and Kannur. Khalasis were involved in various works related to shipbuilding and harbors. 

From Tradition to Present: How the Khalasis are Staying Relevant

Khalasis, who had been involved in the construction of ships in Beypore, has a rich history and a deep-rooted connection with the traditional knowledge and skills passed down through generations (personal Interview, Ummer Muppan, 12th December, 2022). Their traditional technical skill and dedication have earned them immense respect and admiration, not only in the local community but also globally. Their contribution is being recognized even beyond the boundaries of Malabar. However, as industrialization and European influence brought changes to Kerala’s socio-economic scenario, they adapted to the evolving times. With the advent of modern machinery and the impact of colonialism, they expanded their expertise to embrace new professions and industries. During the colonial period Khalasis played a significant role in shaping the traditional craftsmanship of Kerala and creating new opportunities to excel in diverse fields ((Muhammad Sadham Chaliyam, 2013, 121). Khalasis, with their diverse skills and adaptability, have managed to maintain their relevance and significance in various industries. Both within and beyond their traditional domains, making them a respected and valued community in Kerala’s social fabric. 

During the time of British rule in India, Khalasis played a significant role in various railway construction activities. They were involved in heavy work such as building rail tracks, bridges, and large factories where heavy machinery was installed. Their expertise was beneficial for many government projects in Kerala. The British government relied on Khalasi services not only in Kerala but also in other regions. Gradually Khalasis gained recognition and were known for their exceptional skills, both within and outside Kerala. They were sought after by organizations beyond colonial India for their technical expertise in handling large-scale projects. In the colonial period, when India witnessed several major construction projects, Khalasis technical skills were highly valued. Their ability was manifest in the construction of massive railway bridges and huge dams, showcasing their engineering capabilities. Khalasis played a vital role in the infrastructure development of India during the British colonial period, with their technical skills being highly appreciated and recognized in various significant projects.

During the time of the First World War, there are references in some British records suggesting that Khalasis were employed for heavy work in railway construction outside India. It was mentioned in discussions related to the construction of the Bara-Basra Mesopotamia railway line that Chaliyam Khalasis were used for this purpose (personal interview, Hassan Koya, 26th January 2023). The British records mention that the Khalasis, who cooperated very effectively in the construction of the railway, were given leased land in the coastal region of Malabar as a token of appreciation. Projects like the Kadalundi Bridge and Mettur Dam are some examples of the early works undertaken by Khalasis during the colonial era. The construction of the clock tower in Mecca (The Clock Tower in Mecca is a prominent land mark and a symbol of the city’s identity. It is officially known as ‘Abraj Al Bait Clock Tower. It is visible from various parts of the city and serves as a reference point for millions of pilgrims who visit Mecca during Hajj and Umrah) is another example of the work undertaken by Khalasis .(personal interview, Muhammed Koya, 23rd  April, 2022) 

In the activities related to the sea, another essential division of the Khalasis was their involvement in the construction and maintenance of wooden boats in the region of Malabar. In the early days, certain circumstances large ships were unable to navigate directly to their destination. It was during such situations that the Khalasis played a crucial role in navigating and steering the boats. In the early days large wooden boats were used for transporting goods, especially spices, sandalwood and other precious products. Due to their size and design, they were unable to reach the harbors directly. In such cases, the Khalasis were responsible for guiding the boats and maneuvering them to reach the nearest harbor. These skilled individuals had an exceptional understanding of the sea and the local waterways, allowing them to safely navigate the boats.  Their expertise was also valuable when loading and unloading cargo. They ensured that heavy goods and materials were handled efficiently and securely during the process. Additionally, their proficiency in handling heavy objects was a significant asset when lifting and elevating items on both land and sea. The major areas where we can find Khalasis involved in such activities related to the sea are Chaliyam, Beypore, Kallayi, Ponnani, and Tirur. They possess specific regional expertise and utilize technological skills that we can observe in each of these regions (personal interview A Najeeb 30th November 2022).

The Khalasi of Beypore gained worldwide recognition, and one of the most significant events in their history was the Peruman train accident in 1988. Mappila Khalasi from Beypore, Chaliyam and Karuvatthuruthi regions had actively taken part in the Peruman rescue mission (Personal interview, Ummar Muppan 2nd November, 2022). The technology of the traditional khalasis was not yet well known to the general public. They showed the world in the face of disaster how heavy things could be lifted using their traditional weapons.  The Khalasis took up the task when all the rescue operations launched with the help of heavy machinery could not be successful. The Khalasi of Beypore and Chaliyam were able to lift the bogies with relative ease when several modern engineering techniques failed to retrieve railway bogies from the depths of the lake ( Alex George, May 6, 1989, Economic and Political Weekly, p.965)

From the beginning the Indian Army’s Armed Recovery Vehicle took over the rescue mission. So, the khalasis were not directly involved in the rescue mission. However, even then, they played a crucial role in helping the army climb up by fixing iron ropes on the bogies sunk several feet below the water surface. But the attempts to lift the train using crane failed.  The mission failed when the iron rope tied to the bogie to lift it broke. Rail coaches were gone under the water again. The Khalasis then took over the responsibility of lifting the bogies.  In this critical situation, the Mappila Khalasi used their traditional tools such as kappi and rope, for this rescue operation (Personal interview, Ummar Muppan 2nd November, 2022). However, initially, the railway engineers did not have much faith in the skills of the khalasis. The Khalasis, with their strenuous efforts, pulled out the railway bogies one by one from the water. The people present watched the work of the khalasis with great wonder.

Unique Cultural expression’s 

In Beypore, Khalasis have an exceptional role in the construction of traditional wooden boats known as Uru. Due to the long history of Uru construction, they have a rich heritage and experience in this field. They have been involved in building Uru. Their expertise is especially significant in the construction of traditional wooden boats, which is a unique aspect of their craft. The Khalasis of Beypore play a crucial role in launching the newly constructed Uru into the water. This task requires a specific set of skills that are mastered by the Khalasis through their long-standing involvement in the Uru making process.  In addition to their involvement in sea-related activities, Khalasis were skilled in handling large boats that entered the harbors. When such boats got stuck in the area of little water, the Khalasis themselves were capable of maneuvering and freeing the vessels. To accomplish such tasks competently, Khalasis relied on their special tool called “Dhawar” commonly known as a wooden vinch. Along with Dhawar, Khalasis used additional tools such as “kappi” and “coir” to aid in their effort (C.P Musthafa, 2019 p.338). Their expertise in using these tools made their work much simpler and more efficient. Several traditional songs and chants associated with their heavy work are known as “Vinchi pattukal”  “Amba pattukal” and “Elayya pattukal,” which signify their historical connection with their profession ( personal interview with Muhammed Koya, 23rd  April, 2021 )

Due to the serious nature of their work, a sense of solidarity among the laborers becomes crucial. Providing inspiration and enthusiasm to the workers is the purpose of such songs. Often, these songs aim to simplify challenging tasks and elevate the mood of the workers. The rhythm and melody of these songs were designed to invigorate the laborers, encouraging them to work with more energy and dedication. (B. Muhammed Ahammed, 2006, 52). These songs create a sense of unity and shared experience among all the workers, making them feel more connected and driven to achieve their common goal. When we study the history of work songs, we can indeed observe a uniform nature. All types of songs used in workplaces aim to reduce the burden of labor and foster amity among the workers. The use of work songs created a sense of collaboration and cooperation among the workers, leading to a collective effort in achieve their goals. The lyrics of these songs were not purely for artistic purposes; rather, their significance lay in motivating the workers and creating a sense of solidarity within the workforce. So, the lines of these work songs did not follow the conventions of refined music; instead, they prioritized the essential message of unity and encouragement. Workplaces are filled with various emotions, joys, sorrows, and challenges. All of these characteristics are reflected in the work songs, making them an integral part of the work environment. 

The work songs sung by the Khalasis, who were involved in the construction of Beypore Uru are known as “Panipattu” or “Kappal pattu.” These songs hold significant impact of the Khalasi Muslim community, which was engaged in the different stages of Uru building activities (personal Interview, Ummer Muppan, 12th December, 2022 ). The style of singing and the vocal techniques used in these songs were influence by Mappila pattu. The lyrics song contains references to Allah, the divine power, reflecting the deep faith and spirituality of the workers. The Panipattu or Kappal pattu was not limited to just artistic expressions. They served a greater purpose in creating a sense of unity and strength among the laborers. These songs incorporated the legends of Prophet Muhammad, Karamat (Arabic term commonly used in Islamic religious context to refer the miracles or extraordinary acts performed by saints or holy person. These miracles are believed to be manifestations of divine power and are often considered as signs of the person’s spiritual and connection with God) of Sheikh or Auliyas. Panipattu or Kappal pattu played a significant role in the work environment. It bringing together the workers and motivating them to carry out their tasks with determination and unity. 

The chief purpose of the Khalasis using work songs is to gain energy and motivation for their work. These songs provide a source of strength for the workers.  The term commonly used to refer to those who sing work songs is known as “Ambakkaran”.  The leader of the group is called “Khalasi Moopan who acts as Ambakkaran”. ‘Jawabmar’ as the term used to refer to those who respond to the song or repeat it is sung by Ambakaran. Their usage of specific words and context depends on the situation and the demands of the work environment (personal interview with Mammu,15th December, 2022). Some of the work songs may contain short poetic verses, and they are used accordingly based on the rhythm or tempo of the work. Various workers may sing the same song, but the lyrics may be adapted to fit the context of the different work sites. 

This paper mainly focuses on the distinct style of Amba songs. When analyzing the lyrics of these work songs and examining the techniques used, it becomes possible to gain a clear understanding of the different work environments. Mappila Khalasi Katha parayunnu the malayalam work written by C.M Mustafa Haji Chelembra discusses the detailed references to the unforgettable experiences of the Khalasis.  In this work, Chelembra narrates the details of the strenuous work that Khalasis undertook using traditional equipment called Vinchi to lift weights at the construction sites in Malabar (C.M Musthafa Haji Chelembra, 2011, pp.37-40) Before attempting to lift a heavy object, the experienced Khalasi in the group would call out “Pidikkalle” (going to lift) to which others would respond. Then the lifting process started and everyone joined together (C.M Musthafa Haji Chelembra, 2011, pp.37-40). After that throughout the work, they would continue singing the Amba Pattukal. Everyone, hold it and lift it together. The Khalasis would engage in the laborious task while singing Amba Pattukal, making their work more manageable and inspiring each other with a sense of unity.  Some lines from the Amba paattukal that the Khalasis used to commonly use in their workplaces are mentioned in this context. 

Ailasa… ailasa….
Oblamali ailsa…
Thalla pokkaru ailasa…
Ailasa… ailasa… (personal interview, Abubaker , 18th December, 2022)

It is impossible to find the exact literary meaning of lines mentioned above.  The workers sing these lines together, called “ailasa,” to make the task of lifting heavy objects more strenuous. It is more likely that the term “thalla pokkar” refers to an imaginary leader. Such amba songs were used during times of heavy lifting and also during times of pulling or pushing heavy loads.

We can see different kinds of amba pattukal that the Khalasis used to sing, depending on the nature of the work. The nature of the song totally different when they sang it during rescue operations at accident sites. Here is the translation of the famous lines from the amba pattukal sung by Khalasis during vehicle accidents and rescue operations:

Vandi marinje …ailasa..
Undikkettu ailasa…
Oblamali ailasa.. (personal interview, A Najeeb, 30th November, 2022) 

The words “vandi marinje” and “unthikettu” are in the traditional common usages.”vandi marinje” means that the vehicle has overturned. “unthikettu” refers to the collective effort of lifting a fallen vehicle using everyone’s strength. Khalasis commonly use ailasa calls in all kinds of heavy lifting tasks to reduce the workload.

Kallayi River (Kallayi puzha is merge with the Arabian Sea in Kozhikode. The river is significant for its historical and cultural importance ) which was strongly connected with the lives of Khalasis in Malabar. In the trade history of Malabar Kallayi River was considered the main center of the ancient timber trade. The main theme of the amba pattukal revolves around the Kallayi river, as it had a profound impact on the professional and social lives of the Khalasis. From the song of amba Pattu, we can assume how much influence and impact the Kallayi River had on the lives of Khalasis. 

Allante kamalu rahmathu
Thannalu rabee barakkathu
Allante kamalu rahmathu 
Thannalu rabee barakkathu
Kallayippuzhayude rahmathu 
Thannalu rabee barakkath  (personal interview,  Hussain P , 26th January, 2023) 

The Kallayi River was an integral part of the lives of Khalasis in Malabar, and it played a significant role in shaping their livelihoods. It served as a major center for their activities, and they depended closely on the river for various stages of their lives. The main thing that is being indicated in these lines is that the biggest blessing that God has given to the Khalasis is the Kallayi River. This song “amba pattukal” reflects the association between Khalaasis and the Kallayi River, symbolizing the wealth and prosperity bestowed upon them by God.

Another important place where the Khalasis sang amba pattukal was in connection with the different stages of uru making. Khalasis used to be involved in all the stages of Uru making. The Khalasis themselves used to do all the different heavy-duty tasks related to Uru construction. In all these stages, the Khalasis used to sing vinchi songs to lighten their workload. During the time of  Uru launching in to the sea, the Khalasis sang a song to ease their fatigue from laborious work (personal interview, Ummer Muppan, 12th December, 2022 ).  During this period, they sang song known as vinchi pattu. In these vinch songs, everything that brings enjoyment and comfort to the mind will find its place in the lyrics. They used vinchi pattu song inspired by Muhiyudheen Sheik’s extraordinary skill. They believe that Muhiyudheen Sheik’s exceptional abilities would bring about more significant accomplishments in this meticulous endeavor (personal interview, Ummer Muppan, 12th December, 2022 ). 

Alla alla ya salama 
Porishayerum nurudheen sheik 
Ya auliya 
Alla allay a salama  ( personal interview,  Mammu, 15th December, 2022 ).

It is possible to witness profound songs in the vinchi tradition, expressing deep religious sentiments in the cultural history of Malabar. Auliyakkal played a significant role in shaping the strong beliefs and cultural values in Malabar. Hence, we can indeed have an enormous collection of poignant vinchi songs.

Shahid abubakkar samadani oliyulla 
Allahi alla salamu
Shahid abubakkar samadani oliyulla 
Allante alla kaval
Shahid abubakkar samadani oliyulla (personal interview, Hussain P ,26th January, 2023). 

We can see many vinchi songs that mention the miracles of the Auliyas. In such songs, we can see the Auliyas being praised in an immense way. The Khalasis believed that when doing heavy work, the Auliyas would be with them and help them lift the weight invisibly. This belief gave them the confidence to lift even the heaviest objects.

The existence of such Amba paattukal, which praised Allah (God) and the Auliyas, was another important proof of the strong faith that the Mappilas possessed.

Alla alla…yallaa…
Keripokatte ya allaa
Alla allay a alla…

The song  Ellayya pattukal was commonly used by Khalasis to  lift heavier loads during manual labour. In some places, these types of work songs were also known as amba pattukal or alayya pattukal. These songs provide rhythm and motivation for the workers, making it easier for them to coordinate their efforts and lift heavy weights together. 

Othupidichal malayum porum elayya
Kakkane njangale ellayya
Pavangalan elayya
Mureed auliya ealayya
Alla alla elayya 
Kakkane alla elayya 
Muthu nabiye elayya

Each Elayapatt or Ambapatt song provides valuable information about the lives of Khalasis. By analyzing the Elayapatt songs mentioned above, we can find facts that support these observations. Othupidichal Malayum Porum: The phrase “Othupidichal malayum porum” means that if we stand together, even an impossible task like breaking a mountain becomes easy. This reminds us of the importance of unity and cooperation among the Khalasis. They were a community that worked hard together and helped each other.

“Kakkane njangale ellayya- Pavangalan elayya -Mureed auliya elayya” we see the poor Khalasis praying to the saints (auliya) for their protection. Khalasis himself says that they were very poor and they faced many hardships. Therefore, they believe that the help of God and the saints is essential for them. It is clear that, through such amba pattukal, they greatly desire the mercy and compassion of God. Songs like ambapatt and elayapatt reveal important details about the social, cultural, and economic standing of Khalasis. These songs give us a clear picture of their unity, cooperation, faith in God, poverty and hardships. They serve as an important source for understanding Khalasi culture.

Allase ele mali
Allase ele chumbra
Allase ya maoulani
Allase musakka
Allase beeran ponni 
Allase maveli nattil 
Allase vilayatt undedo ( personal interview, Ubaith , 15th December, 2022)

The Khalasis used to sing a large number of work songs that were widely common at the work sites. These amba pattukal (work songs) played a vital role in the lives of Khalasis, providing them with much-needed relief during their laborious tasks. With the help of these songs, they could synchronize their efforts while lifting heavy weights and the rhythm of the songs made their work more manageable and inspiring. The songs were used in conjunction with their work routines. The Khalasis adjusted the lyrics of the songs based on the nature of their work and the difficulty of the task. Depending on the specific work, they used different verses and adjusted the tune accordingly. For example, they sang Bhakti Pattukal (devotional songs), Hasya Pattukal (comical songs), and Theri Pattukal as per the context of their work ( personal interview, Ubaith , 15th December, 2022). Many types of songs were frequently sung in accompaniment to Amba paattukal. The enchanted verses of these songs embodied humor, faith, and life itself. Khalasis unity is the most significant component of their work. When a Khalasi in a group is not giving his work his full attention, the other members of the group tease him and sing about it. Such lines were quickly making their way into their songs. In the same way, occasionally they would pair these songs with swearing songs. Such swearing songs were regarded by them as a type of workplace humor. All those involved in the Khalasi profession were part of these songs. The truth is that these songs, whether they were swearing songs or mocking songs, never had an adverse impact on the Khalasis sense of unity. 


The unique and outstanding feature of Khalasi culture is the representation of their work songs, known as “amba pattukal.” These songs have a deep-rooted connection with the cultural life of the Khalasi community in Kerala. Regardless of the nature of the work, the Khalasis used these songs to efficiently coordinate and manage their labor-intensive activities. These songs were a perfect example of how work and cultural practices could intertwine harmoniously. Even the Vinchi Pattukal served as a cultural representation of traditional community practices. The Khalasis’ social group in Malabar exhibits a strong cultural unity, heavily influenced by their beliefs, customs, and rituals, which are reflected in their lives. These songs also brought out their talents and showcased their traditions through competitive representation. Irrespective of regional differences and variations in work types, the Khalasis demonstrated unity by coming together to sing and perform during laborious tasks, making these work songs a significant aspect of their cultural heritage. Throughout different regions and diverse work assignments, the Khalasis maintained their unique cultural identity by integrating these labor songs into their work routines. This tradition of using work songs has been passed down through generations, allowing them to preserve their customs and beliefs. The notable ability of the Khalasis to adapt their work songs to different contexts and work environments highlights their creativity and resilience. Whether it was a representation of vanchi pattukal or Amba pattukal to demonstrate their cultural heritage and bring together diverse beliefs and practices. These work songs, such as Amba pattukal, play a vital role in the Khalasi community, representing their culture, customs, and collective spirit. The songs serve as a reminder of their shared heritage and inspire unity among Khalasis making them an essential element of their cultural identity. 


Personal Interviews

Abubaker Valyattil (63), Khalasi worker, Beypore, 18th December, 2022
A Najeeb (68) , Khalasi worker, Feroke, 30th November 2022
Hassan Koya, Khalasi Muppan, Chalyam, 26th January, 2023
Hussain P (76), Khalasi Muppan, Chaliyam, 26th January, 2023
Mammu (72), Kahalasi worker, Karuvanthuruthi, 15th December, 2022
Muhammed Koya, (65) Khalasi Muppan, Beypore, on 23rd  April, 2022
Ummer Muppan,(67) Kalasi Muppan, Beypore, 12th December, 2022
Ubaith (62) , Khalasi worker, Karuvanthurthi, 15th December,2022

Works Cited

Alex George, (May 6, 1989) Malabar Khalasis’ Traditional Technology to the Rescue in Perumon, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 24, No. 18, 1989, pp. 965-967
Muhammed Ahammed, B. ( 2006) Mappila Folklore, Samayam publication ,Kannur
Musthafa, C.P. (2019) Khalasi Kayika Vaidagdathinte Mappila Paithrikam, Proceedings of Kannur Muslim Heritage Conference, Kannur
Musthafa Haji Chelembra, C.M, ( 2011) Mappila Khalasi Kadha Parayunnu, Pradheekksha books, Kozhikode
Sadham, Muhammad, Chaliyam, (2013) Chaliyathinte Charithra Chalanangal, Majlis offset printers, Calicut
Ms. Nasreena P.K
Assistant Professor of History
S E S  College, Sreekandapuram, Kannur
Pin: 670631 
Ph: +91  9744809808
Email. nasreenapk0@gmail.com
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