Parkour turns fish market into cultural hub

Parkour in the midst of a fish market, narrating stories about the existence of the centuries-old hamlet, singing traditional songs and a cookery demonstration of freshly caught electric ray and prawns — Urur-Olcott fish market transformed to an inclusive socio-cultural space for the local community on Sunday.
Parkour turns fish market into cultural hub
A child tries out parkour; (Inset) A cooking session under way


The fish market near Ellaiamman Koil, Urur Olcott Kuppam, Besant Nagar, was decorated with colourful banners and exercise bars, where a group of people were performing a parkour (training discipline similar to military obstacle course training), watched intently by kids. This is a part of Urur Olcott Vizha’s attempt to reimagine the fish market beyond its role as an economic entity, filled with cacophony and a salty odour and into an inclusive socio-cultural space.
Prabhu Mani, one of the founders of Parkour Circle, which performed at the fish market, said that they performed in an area which was earlier a dump yard. 
“It was cleaned up and we thought it would be interesting to perform there, as we face similar challenges when we try to parkour outside, where most places are unclean due to people spitting and urinating. The children loved the performance and we enjoyed making people laugh in the middle of the fish market,” he said. 
In Urur’s story, residents of Urur-Olcott Kuppam narrated how the hamlets sprang up but eventually, got pushed into the fringes as the city grew and Besant Nagar sprawled. S Palayam, a fisherman, recalled when they could spot the beach from the terrace of the only concrete house in the locality. “When I was growing up, we would earn well as the fish were in abundance. Now, overfishing has led to a dwindling of catch, leaving us in a difficult situation,” said Palayam. 
Manohar (78), a retired-fisherman who passed over the reins of the traditional craft to his children, sang pieces the Nagoor Andavar, a prayer common among the fisherfolk before they ventured out. Then, he crooned Amba, a song that the fishermen sing while pushing the boat into the sea and when nets are hauled. 
As the morning progressed, a makeshift cooking counter was set up at a corner of the fish market, when Muthulakshmi, a resident, started a demonstration of seafood recipes specifically of the lesser known varieties of fish.

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