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28 Feb 2024, Edition - 3151, Wednesday

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The curious connection between Jimikki Kammal and Silappathikaaram

AR Meyyammai


What does ‘Entammede Jimikki Kammal’, a trippy Malayalam number from Mohanlal-starrer ‘Velipadinte Pusthakam’, have to do with Tamil epic Silappathikaaram?

The Jimikki Kammal song having become the toast of Tamil Nadu, Internet is flooded with memes and comic video versions of popular Tamil comedians like Goundamani and Vadivelu. Dissecting the lyrics, some serious-minded people are sending out audios and giving its meaning in Tamil, especially for the first stanza:

“Entammede Jimikki Kammal

Entappan kattondu poye

Entappante brandy kuppe

Entamma kudichu theerthe.”

A translation of it means my father stole my mother’s Jimikki Kammal (a traditional ear ornament) and my mother consumed my father’s brandy and emptied the bottle.

Even as some elements are preaching morals and saying the Tamils should not croon or groove to the song as it demeans mothers, the learned have come out in the open drawing references from Silappathikaaram and telling it is an age-old practice of the Tamil land too and does not warrant condemnation.

One such philologist has traced the etymology of the words in the lyrics and put a Facebook post titled, ‘The curious connection of #EntammedeJimikkiKammal and #Chilappadhigaaram’ where he quotes prince-poet Ilango Adigal of Kodungallur near Kochi (part of ancient Tamilagam and now Kerala) and the usage of the word ‘kattu’ in his Tamil literary work that shares a similar meaning with Malayalam word ‘kattondu’:

“Mattun vazhkkai venduthi rayin

kattun maakkal kadantharu menavangu.”

– Silambu: Madurai Kaandam: Vettuvavari: 18-19

Explains retired Tamil professor Nirmala Mohan, a recipient of the Tamil Nadu government’s Ilango Adigal award, “The word ‘kattu’ takes the meaning of kalavu (theft) in these lines in Silappathikaaram. A hunter woman Salini, who is possessed by God, tells the people of ‘Paalai’ landscape who make a living out of robbery that if they want to drink toddy (mattu) and live a happy life, they need to fulfil the vow they made to Goddess Kotravai immediately.”

Malayalam, according to her, being an offshoot of Tamil but with an excessive influence of Sanskrit, it is no surprise that Epicureans were and are everywhere in both the South Indian states.

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