Unni Vaavaavo [Santhwanam 1991]

Unnikuttan,

I am not sure how long you will let us call you by this name. This song is the lullaby I used to sing to you on most days when you were a baby and you needed some “potti-potti”(That was your toddler talk for kotti-kotti or pat me to sleep). I have sung this song for a lot of little kids I baby-sat along the years, but never had an idea that one day I’ll have my own unni to sing it to.. :).. You are growing up so fast, but even now there are some days when you ask for the potti-potti – and I wish I could just bottle up this time for myself to look back on.

This song is actually talking about a special unni(baby) – Unnikannan or Lord Krishna from Mahabharat. If you want to know more, go read up on his childhood antics. It’s really fun- for starters, he used to love stealing butter to eat. If you feel unfamiliar with some words here, it’s because I didn’t know the whole song myself and used to scramble up the lines/ add new words to it as I saw fit.. ūüėÄ

Unni vaavaavo…. ponnunni vaavaavo
[Unni vaavaavo.. dearest unni vaavaavo]

Neela peeli kannum pootti
Pooncheladalo..kayyil pooncheladallo
[With your blue eyelashes closed ..
you swing… in my arms, you swing…]

Mukilamme mazhavillundo…Mayilamme thirumudiyundo
Ponnunni kannanu seemani…Kanikanan melle poru
[Hey cloud, do you have a rainbow?.. Hey peahen, do you have beautiful feathers?
For my little kannan… please come as a kani* offering..]

Alanjoriyum poonkatte…Aramaniyum chaarthivaru
Ennunni kannanurangan vaavaavo paadi varu…vaavaavo paadi varu
[Hey gentle breeze which makes waves…come with your waist chain with bells**
For my unni to sleep, sing vaavavo and come…. sing vaavao and come]

Unni vaavaavo…. ponnunni vaavaavo
[Unni vaavaavo.. dearest unni vaavaavo]

Neela peeli kannum pootti
Pooncheladalo..kayyil pooncheladallo
[With your blue eyelashes closed ..
you swing… in my arms, you swing…]

Oru kannayi sooryanurangu…Maru kannayi thinkalurangu
Thrikkayil venna urangu…Mamooninu bhoomi orungu
[As one eye, let the sun sleep… as the other eye, let the moon sleep
In your little hands,let the butter sleep…for your mealtime,let the earth get ready ***]

Thiru madhuram kanavil urangu…Thirunamam naavil urangu
Ennunni kannanurangan moolokam+ muzhuvan urangu..Moolokam muzhuvan urangu
[Let you have sweet dreams…let the God’s name be on your tongue
For my baby kannan to sleep, let all three worlds sleep… let all three worlds sleep]

Unni vaavaavo…. ponnunni vaavaavo
[Unni vaavaavo.. dearest unni vaavaavo]

Neela peeli kannum pootti
Pooncheladalo..kayyil pooncheladallo
[With your blue eyelashes closed ..
you swing… in my arms, you swing…]

*Kani literally means a sight. Vishu is the new year in Malayalam calendar (yeah, there is a Malayalam calendar..:)) and on Vishu morning, it is auspicious to view a good kani first thing in the morning as per Hindu custom. It consists of fruits and other nice things including a beautiful yellow flower called konna. Vishu usually falls in April and all konna trees will be flowering around that season. It is a beautiful sight by itself.
** Aramani is referring to the rustling sound wind makes.
*** Lord Krishna had a habit of eating soil when he was little.
+Moolokam – Three worlds – heaven, earth and pathalam(underground)

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Mel Mel Mel Vinnile [Ustad Hotel 2012]

Unnikuttan,

The first thing you say after you get in the car and buckle yourself in is “Mom/Dad, put on the music”. Your requests vary according to your mood. Sometimes you feel like listening to the mix CDs I make and other times you prefer the pop on the radio. You even give cryptic instructions like “Can you skip to CD# 4, Song# 8?”. :). ¬†You seem to like English pop, Bollywood songs with lots of English words peppered in and preferably have a Punjabi beat in them, rock/soft rock with lots of electric guitar in any language and peppy songs in Malayalam and Tamil. Your dad and I get blown away everyday by how good you are at identifying songs after hearing a little segment of the BGM. Most times you are lost in enjoying and singing along the music when we go on a drive and your dad and I have caught ourselves stopping our chatter – just to listen to you.

This peppy melody, is one of your favorites in Malayalam in recent times. I realized this when we were watching the movie on TV and you said “I really like this song, mommy” and started humming along.

Mel mel mel vinnile…. chekkeraa* kilikalaayi(2)
[High high high up in the sky…. like free birds ]
Veruthe… naam ithile…
[casually….we are sailing through here]

Etho kombil koodundakkan pokaaraayi
Thazhe mannin nerum thedarayi
[It’s time to go make a nest on one of the branches
and to find the truth of the land down there]

Orey niram, swaram…
Ini orey vazhi, mozhi, sruthi
[One color, one sound… (we have)
Now one way, one word and one tone ]

Mel mel mel vinnile…. chekkeraa* kilikalaayi(2)
[High high high up in the sky…. like free birds ]
Veruthe…. naam ithile…
[casually….we are sailing through here]

Va vaa thanuvaa vaa…. naarum konde
[Come come down you come…with strings (for the nest)]
Mel mel menju konde
[High up grazing]
Oh..en mohamaake …
[Oh…my wishes..]
Oh… nin snehamaake
[Oh…your love]
Menanju koodithaa..onnuchernnu othukoodi…
[..make this nest… all of us together… ]
Vinnil nee mannilekkethidaan
[…so that you can come down to the earth from the sky]

Mel mel mel vinnile… chekkeraa* kilikalaayi (2)
[High high high up in the sky…. like free birds ]
Veruthe… naam ithile…
[casually….we are sailing through here]

Etho kombil koodundakkan pokaaraayi
Thazhe mannin nerum thedarayi
[It’s time to go make a nest on one of the branches
and to find the truth of the land down there]

orey niram, swaram
Ini orey vazhi, mozhi, sruthi
[One color, one sound… (we have)
Now one way, one word and one tone ]

Mel mel mel vinnile…. chekkeraa kilikal naam(2)
[High high high up in the sky…. like free birds we are]

ithile…onnithile….
anayaam… onnithile..
[here… right here…
let’s rest…right here..]

ithile…onnithile….
anayaam… onnithile..
[here… right here…
let’s rest…right here..]

*chekkeruka means roosting in Malayalam. So “chekkera kilikal” are birds who are not roosting.

Aayiram Kannumai [Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu 1984]

Unnikuttan,

I was only a toddler when this movie came out and used to love singing it.  Surprisingly, this is your go-to song when you need to settle down on some nights.

There is a funny story around this song too. Your dad and I were newly married and were attending some random party. I was forced to sing and I chose this song. ¬†After I finished, the compere said something like “Rajeshine orthanu ee paatu padiyathu”(She sang this song thinking about Rajesh).¬†You know your dad’s name is definitely NOT Rajesh. ¬†So your dad, who was leisurely socializing somewhere in the party, came running to the stage and asked “Who the heck is Rajesh?”. The embarrassed guy had to admit that he didn’t know your dad’s name!

Now, here’s to all those nights you fell asleep listening to this:

Aayiram kannumai… kaathirunnu ninne njaan
Ennil ninnum parannakannoru.. painkili malar thenkili
[With thousand eyes…I have waited for you*
The one who flew away from me… oh beautiful bird]

Aayiram kannumai… kaathirunnu ninne njaan
Ennil ninnum parannakannoru.. painkili malar thenkili
[With thousand eyes…I have waited for you*
The one who flew away from me… oh beautiful bird]

Manju veenatharinjilla veyil vannu poyatharinjilla (2)

[I didn’t realize when the snow fell.. nor did I know when the sun came and went (2)]

Omale nee varum naalum enniyirunnu njaan

[I spend my time counting the days until your return]

Painkili malar thenkili

[Oh beautiful bird]

Vannu nee vannu.. ninnu nee.. ende janma saaphalyame (2)

[You came…and stayed.. oh my life’s fulfillment… (2)]

Aayiram kannumai kaathirunnu ninne njaan
Ennil ninnum parannakannoru painkili malar thenkili

[With thousand eyes…I have waited for you*
The one who flew away from me… oh beautiful bird]

Thennal ummakal ekiyo… kunju thumbi thamburu meettiyo

[Did the gentle breeze kiss you?… Did the little dragonfly play the thamburu?**]

Ullile maamayil neela peelikal veeshiyo

[Did the peacock in your heart spread its blue feathers? ]

(Thennal …veeshiyo )

Ente ormayil poothu ninnoru… manja mandhaarame
Ennil ninnum parannu poyoru.. jeeva chaithanyame

[You bloomed in my memory… oh yellow mandaram flower
You flew away from me….oh my life’s meaning]

Aayiram kannumai kaathirunnu ninne njaan
Ennil ninnum parannakannoru painkili malar thenkili

[With thousand eyes…I have waited for you*
The one who flew away from me… oh beautiful bird]

* I have waited for you so eagerly
** Thamburu is a string instrument used in Indian classical music

Annarakanna Vaa [Bhramaram 2009]

Annarakanna Vaa.. Poovala …
Changatham koodaan vaa.. (2)

[Come beautiful squirrel.. Come and be friends with me]
Moovandan maavel vaa vaa …
Oru punnara thean kani thaa thaa

[Come to the moovandan mango tree and pick me  a honey filled mango ]
Nangeli pashuvinte paalu
vella pinjanathil ninakkekam

[I will give you Nangeli cow’s milk in a white bowl]
Orukkam njan ponnonam… changathi
[I will set a beautiful Onam for you, my friend]
Annarakanna Vaa.. Poovala …
Changatham koodaan vaa.. (2)

[Come beautiful squirrel.. Come and be friends with me]

Muttolamethunna paavaadayuduthoru
Thottaavaadi penne… Oo..Oo..Oo
[Hey knee-length skirt wearing, frail little girl.. Oo…Oo…Oo]
Mukutti chaanthinte kuriyum varachu nee
Oru naalarikil varaamo…
[Wearing paste of mukkutti flower on your forehead, will you come near me one day ]
Oru naalarikil varaamo…
[Will you come near me one day]
Ponnathira thean chandrikayil
Neeyum njaanum neeraadi
[In the beautiful (thiru)Athira moonlight , you and I basked]
Chittolangal Meyum Puzhayil
Kacholathin Manamozhuki
[In the beautiful river weaving waves, smell of kacholam flowed ]
Hrudayam Kavarnnu…Nin Naanam
[Stole my heart, your blush]
Annarakanna Vaa.. Poovala …
Changatham koodaan vaa.. (2)
[Come beautiful squirrel.. Come and be friends with me]

Ennalum kaanumbol onnai paaduvan
Undallo Oru Paattu..OoOoOo……
[Whenever we meet together, we have this song to sing.. Oo]
Ennatha swapnangal kunnolam koodumbol
Kaanaanulloru koothu…
[When all our numerous dreams create a mountain, we still have each other to meet]
Kaanaanulloru koothu…
[We have each other to meet]
Enno kaalam maychu kazhinju
Sneham korum chithrangal
[Time has wiped away, pictures drawn with love]
Engo dooram poi maranju
Megham pole mohangal
[Far away like clouds, desires have disappeared ]
Ennalum ennalum novum ormmakal…
[Even then, even then, memories hurt me]

Annarakanna Vaa.. Poovala …
Changatham koodaan vaa.. (2)
[Come beautiful squirrel.. Come and be friends with me]
Moovandan maavel vaa vaa …
Oru punnara thean kani thaa thaa
[Come to the moovandan mango tree and pick me  a honey filled mango ]
Nangeli pashuvinte paalu
vella pinjanathil ninakkekam
[I will give you Nangeli cow’s milk in a white bowl]
Orukkam njan ponnonam… changathi
[I will set a beautiful Onam for you, my friend]
Annarakanna Vaa.. Poovala …
Changatham koodaan vaa.. (2)
[Come beautiful squirrel.. Come and be friends with me]