Friday, 14 February 2020

A STUDY ON LULLABY AND THALATTU



                                        Image result for image of a mother and baby singing lullaby



Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing you a Lullaby.

  (THE BEATLES)

Lullaby or a cradle song is a well- known term and almost synonymous with mothers. The love and care a Mother showers on her baby is immense and cannot be put into words. There are many Lullabies penned by world famous writers of almost all world languages. Lullaby in English Literature comes under the genre of poetry.

Sleep little baby, clean as a nut,
Your fingers uncurl and your eyes are shut
Your life was ours, which is with you
Go on your journey we go too.

The bat is flying round the house
Like an umbrella turned into a mouse
The moon is astonished and so are the sleep
Their bells have come to send you to sleep

Oh be our rest, our hopeful start
Turn your head to my beating heart
Sleep little baby, clean as a nut
 Your fingers uncurl and your eyes are shut

(Lullaby by John Fuller)


The definition of a lullaby is a quiet or soothing song intended to get a child to go to sleep. According to Webster dictionary lullaby derives from the two earlier English words that were both used to soothe children- “”lulla”” and “”bye””. They were combined in the late 1500 s to refer specifically to a song used to calm the children or put them to sleep.

  An Article by Nina Perry in January 2013 published by BBC titled “”THE Universal language of lullabies”” brings forth the origin and development of lullabies. One of the oldest known lullabies is a 5,000 year old Babylonian song.   It is written in cuneiform script, one of the first forms of writings. This was written on a small clay tablet and now it is kept in the British Museum, London. Threatening themes were also used in the lullabies. I quote “”Rhythmically there are shared patterns too .Lullabies are usually in Triple metre or 6/8 time, giving them a “”Characteristic swinging or rocking motion. This is soothing because it mimics the movement a baby experiences in the womb as a mother moves. Says sally Goddard Blythe

 The purpose of the lullabies varies. In some societies they are used to pass down cultural knowledge or tradition. Lorca’s theory- which many researches today would agree with –was that a large part of the function of the lullaby is to help a Mother vocalise her worries and concerns. In short, they serve as therapy for the Mother.

Old English lullaby by Eugene Field, Richard Row Lands’s   Lullaby, Lullaby, oh, Lullaby! by Christina Georgina Rossetti,  W. H. Auden’s Lullaby and Mary D. Brine’s “”Mother and baby” are the few best examples of Lullaby poems.  Elizabeth Bishop’s Lullaby for the cat is Note-worthy.

“”Minnow, go to sleep and dream,
Close your great big eyes;
Round your bed events prepare
The pleasantest surprise.

Darling Minnow, drop that frown,
Just cooperate,
Not a kitten shall be drowned
In the Marxist State.

Joy and love will both be yours,
Minnow, don’t be glum.
Happy days are coming soon…
Sleep, and let them come…


The above Lullaby proves that Lullaby is not only sung by a mother for her baby, but also by a master to her pet. One more special Lullaby comes from a poet for his king. This is evident from the article titled ”Lullaby for a King “by Charumathi Ramachandran, published in the Friday review of January 2013 in the daily THE HINDU. In the 18th Century a famous court poet of Travancore Iraiyammam Thampi wrote a Malayalam song, a lullaby in praise of the baby prince. The baby prince is none other than the Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. The song is ‘’Omanathingal Kidavo”.

The lullaby of the English Literature finds place in Tamil Literature as THALATTU.  It is one of the major components of PILLAI THAMIZH OF CHITTRILAKKIYAM. This can be found in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham in which Periya alwar being a devotee, treats himself as Yasodha(the mother of Lord Krishna) and sings THALATTU to Lord Krishna.

Periyaalwar was the incarnation of Garuda the Lord of birds and divine vehicle of Lord Vishnu. He was born to his parents Padma and Mukunda at Srivilliputhur. He had enthralled the divine assembly of Sri Vallabha Deva, the King of Pandya Naadu, by establishing the Visishtadvaitic concepts. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Ranganatha who is residing as Vatapathra Saayee at Srivilliputthur.  Periyaalwar’ THALATTU titled “Manikkam Katti”, can be found in the first canto of his Thirumozhi.  There are about ten stanzas all describing about the graceful form of the child Krishna, his cradle, ornaments, weapons etc.,

Maanikkam katti vayiram Idai katti
Aanip ponnaal cheidha vannach chiru thottil
Peni unakku biraman vidu thandhaan
Maanik kuralane thaalelo, Vaiyam alandhaane thaalelo.

In the same way Kulashekar Alawar a devotee of the Lord, treats himself as Kousalya (The mother of Lord Rama) and sings THALATTU to Lord Rama.

Kulasekhara Alwar was the incarnation of Vanamaalaa, the divine garland of Lord Vishnu. He was born to the King DhrudaVratha who ruled the state Vanjikkalam of which Kolli Nagaram was the capital, the present Kerala. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. He has composed one hundred and five stanzas titled with Perumal Thirumozhi. In these, eleven stanzas were THALLATU, titled “Mannu Pugazh”.  It deals with the glory of Ramaavathara.

Mannu pugazhk kausalai than mani vayiru vaaitthavane
Thennilangaik kon mudigal sindhuvitthai sempon ser
Kanni nan madhil pudai soozh kanapuratthen kan maniye
Ennudaiya Innamudhe Iraaghavane thaalelo.

 This ensures that THALATTU is sung to make the loved ones sleep. Many modern poets of Tamil language also wrote THALATTU. Lyricists too have written numerous film songs on the theme of THALATTU. Almost in all Indian languages, saint poets have composed krithis on their devoted Lord. The celebrated Saint Annamayya has composed a Lullaby said to be Jola paata in Telugu as Jo Achyuthaanantha jo jo Mukundha.

THALATTU or LULLABY, whatever name is applied, it is inseparable from human lives.

Aaraaro ariraro
Aaraaro ariraro

Aaradichu Nee Azhudaai
Kanmaniye kann urangu

Maaman Aditthaano
Mallip pooch chendaale

Annan Aditthano
Aavaaram kombaale

Pacchai Iluppai vetti
Pavalak kaal thottil ittu
Pavalak kaal thottilile
Balakane Nee urangu

Kattip pasum ponne – kanne nee
Chitthirap poon thottilile
Siriyamma siricchidu –kanne nee
Chitthirap poon thottilile

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