Through the Poromboke Lec-fest organised by Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha, people will get to know the livelihood of people who live in and off the poromboke commons.
The aim of the fest is to upend the notion that intellectual expertise resides only within formal academic institutions and to expose audiences to the wisdom and sciences of people who live in and off the poromboke commons. "It is important to celebrate the work and creative ideas that emerge among communities working in poromboke; be it farmers, fisherfolk, etc — they have great expertise and deep knowledge of the environment. The Poromboke Lec-Fest will allow the audience to interact with people and understand their way of living," says TM Krishna.
The two-day fest will display tools of the trade used by featured poromboke practitioners and offer an opportunity for the audience to get closer to life in the commons. The event held at Curio Play, Alwarpet, will see wildlife photography session by A Shanmuganandan, shadow puppet theatre performance by B Muthuchandran from Tholpavai-k-koothu Troupe, a session by two women seaweed divers from Ramnad, and Science of the Seas by VS Palayam.
Pooja Kumar, one of the volunteers of Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha, tells us, “The shadow puppet theatre performance (thol paavai koothu) titled Porombokku Ketta Varthaiya curated by Muthuchandran (from Thoothukudi) will give an insight into the importance of common land and what happens to society if the land is taken away from the equation. In Ramanathapuram district, a group of women divers is into harvesting seaweed. Two women from the community, N Meenakshi and R Rakammal from Mannar Valaiguda Paasi Sekarikkum Pengal Koottamaippu (Gulf of Mannar Women Seaweed Gatherers Collective) will be talking about their perspective on changing oceans.”
Another interesting session is Science of the Seas by VS Palayam, a fisherman from Urur Olcot Kuppam, who will talk about hook and line fishing techniques. “There are different methods of catching fishes and one of the most complicated and skill-based ones is hook and line fishing. The fisherman needs to be an expert and should know what kind of fish is available in which part of the ocean. Fish caught by hook and line method has higher market value because they are often undamaged by the net. Palayam will discuss small-scale fishing in the East Coast, how markets have changed and how fishing practices have evolved over the years,” adds Pooja.
From this series of lectures, the audience will understand that poromboke is the heart and soul of our economy, society, environment, and social justice. "It is in the poromboke that a lot of important contestations and ideas exist. We hope that this intellectual engagement with the experts will change the perception about poromboke and the way we look at these places and respect the communities that work within these spaces,” sums up Krishna.
What is poromboke?