POROMBOKE SONG

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Poromboke is an old Tamil word for shared community resources like water bodies, seashore and grazing lands that are beneficial in a collective sense but are not part of anyone's  private wealth. Today, it has acquired a pejorative connotation and is used to denote a kind of valueless ness, or worthlessness, in a person or place. Chennai Poromboke Paadal is part of a campaign to reclaim the  word and restore its worth. It was created in association with environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman. It's larger aim is to bring focus to the acres of land which are being encroached at the Ennore Creek, which is  an important ecological area for the city's environmental sustenance. The land has become uninhabitable  and the people living in the surrounding areas are affected severely due to the pollution and the dumping of  fly ash. Over time, this has hindered rainwater runoff and drainage, apart from polluting the environment. It  has also substantially diminished the livelihood of the fisher folk and has created health hazards that are fatal.

 

This song, apart from extending the art form's frontiers, also extends the artist’s frontiers too. Contrary to common understanding that High art is exclusively concerned with the spiritual, and sung in the franca  lingua of upper-class/caste, this song demonstrates that this classical art form can handle complex contemporary issues in the language of the common man. When the song ends with the question, ‘Who or what is  poromboke?’, it resounds in the listeners’ mind as well. This song has inspired people who are plugged into  the contemporary world. The boundaries of art are limitless. When art is sought to be bounded, everyone – art,  artist, and audience – suffers. This attempt effectively begins to break such confines.