The distinctly rich cultural tradition of Mappilas, Muslims of the Malabar region, could not have evolved without their cultural interaction and exchange with indigenous customs and practices.

Nothing exemplifies this better than the arts, legends, rituals and festivals of them.

A recently released book, Mappila Folklore, by B. Muhammed Ahamed, former Kerala Folklore Akademy chairman, is not the first work on Muslim folk arts and customs in Malabar. Its difference from nearly a dozen books on the subject is the special emphasis on the culture of Muslims living north of Kozhikode district.

The author highlights how Mappila folk arts, evolved as part of religious practices and customs, are connected to the indigenous tradition of the State.

Folklore ingredients of Theyyam, Poorakali, Urs festival, Nercha and Palliperunnal could not have been more or less similar had there not been any cultural consensus. These rituals and customs are occasions for rural people to participate in folk arts, regardless of their religions.

"Mappila folklore is an active part of the folklore in Kerala,'' says Mr. Ahamed. Globalisation poses a threat to local cultures, he says, adding that his attempt is to shed light on the folk arts that reflect the Mappila identity.

While retaining a distinct religious character, Mappila folklore has received an impetus from local culture, he adds. The book presents Mappila folklore as a sphere comprising Mappilapattu, legends, narratives, rituals, adages, puzzles, festivals, slang, oral history and food customs.

Mappilapattu genre includes sub-groups, such as wedding songs and love songs. It also introduces Oppana, Kolkali, Kalaripayattu and Parichamuttu, among others. It describes Mappila deities in Theyyam in north Malabar.

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