Friday, March 1, 2013

Famous 'Jerusalem Pattanam' song performed at Kochi concert

By Bala Menon

Jerusalem Pattanam, a famous Judeo-Malayalam song of the Cochin Jews, was one of the attractions recently at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris-Biennale.

The song was performed at a live concert organized at Changampuzha Park in Edapally (Ernakulam) on January 20. The Biennale began on December 12, 2012 and will end on March 13 and events are held at various venues in and around Kochi in Kerala.

The Jerusalem Pattanam song was rendered along with a traditional nauka (boat) song by Carnatic vocalist and composer Dr. Sreevalsan Menon.

The song talks of :
"Glorious Jerusalem,
It will renew again...

rise in all it glory and shine ..
...(in the land) you gave us, let us thrive
...all who praise you, protect every one..

Dr. Nathan Katz, Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, posted a  Facebook note that he and his wife Ellen Goldberg had heard this song when they lived in Kochi in the early 1990s while gathering material for their book The Last Jews of Cochin. "The song was a favourite of the Jewish women there."

At the concert, in a brief introduction, Dr. Menon thanked Dr. Aju Narayanan of U.C. College in Alwaye for assistance in getting the lyrics and Sarah Cohen of Mattancherry who sang this song for Next Year in Jerusalem,  a 1991 documentary on the community. 

The Kappalile Kolum Kattum boat song talks about the arrival of the Jews on the Kerala coast and their subsequent prosperity.

Dr. Sreevalsan Menon
Braving the storms and the waves,
we came on a ship…
now the bride gets into the bridegroom's boat
...the bridegroom gets into the bride's boat,

…there are colourful silk clothes
in bright green and red 
...there are pearls
...and with great happiness we all board the boat

Dr. Sreevalsan Menon was accompanied on stage by Edapally Ajithkumar on the violin,  Changanacherry B. Harikumar on the mridangam and Vazhappally R.  Krishnakumar on the ghatom (the last two are percussion instruments).

Dr. Menon was an Oscar nominee this year for original music score for the movie Saint Dracula, a new interpretation of the original Bram Stoker tale of the Transylvanian prince.

He  is an Associate Professor at the Kerala Agricultural University in Thrissur, and got his Ph D in Agricultural Extension from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.  He  lives in the temple town of Thripunithura near Kochi. Dr. Menon has given Carnatic music performances and lecture demonstrations throughout India, the Middle East, UK, US, Canada and Africa. His albums include Vanaprastham, based on a celebrated short story by M.T. Vasudevan Nair; Monsoon Anuraga a take on Kerala's wonderful rains and Vismaya, a fantasy video album.

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