The Therukural event, helmed by singer-songwriter Arivu, hosted the first physical gathering since the lockdown, just ahead of the Margazhyil Makkalisai (people’s music) event.

Therukural event in 2018Courtesy/ArivuInstagram
news Music Thursday, December 16, 2021 - 19:59

Margazhyil Makkalisai — an event to showcase folk musicians during the Tamil month of Marghazhi — is gearing up for its second edition, and the event got a perfect curtain-raiser of sorts at Chennai’s Semozhi Poonga on December 13 and 15, thanks to the highly popular Therukural event, helmed by singer-songwriter Arivu. Yes, Therukural is back after a long break forced by the pandemic. Conceptualised by Arivu in 2018 and hosted by the Casteless Collective, a Chennai-based indie band, Therukural is a space for indie musicians, particularly folk artists, to perform. It brings together people at various parks and beaches across the city. The gatherings, which are regularly held through the year, are like an open-mic, except there’s no stage, mic or mostly even no instruments; it is just a collection of musicians who need a platform to perform for a cheering crowd, all united by a shared concern for social justice. 

For the past two years, the pandemic-induced lockdowns took the gatherings online and named it Zoomkural. Now with the restrictions eased, Therukural is back with physical meetings this year. The Casteless Collective held the gathering on December 13 at the Semozhi Poonga on Cathedral Road and at ? My Lady’s Garden in Periyamet on December 14, just a few days before Marghazhiyil Makkalisai is set to start. 



Speaking to TNM, Arivu says that the online event certainly didn’t match up to meeting people in person. “Mostly, only the musicians would join the online space. Besides, having to mute and unmute each person, managing the whole event online didn’t have the same verve as physical events. When people meet in person, see the public, they perform with extra enthusiasm. Because we hold it in parks or at the beachside, any passer-by will get curious and come over to see what is happening. Some of them would even ask if they could sing a song, too. It has a different energy,” he shares. 

The  edition of Therukural, which was held at Semozhi Poonga this week, saw the return of young musicians, who were delighted to perform for the crowd. Some songs touched on topics such as beef politics,, the eviction (in the name of “beautifying” Chennai) and rehabilitation of working-class people to places such KP Park in Pulianthope (where residents face continued infrastructural problems), and even on love. 


Joining these young artists, Isaivani, an independent music artist and playback singer, performed her 2021 hit single “Vaiyulla Pulla,” a fierce, feminist anthem on women who speak up for themselves. As the evening fell, Arivu ended the event with the “Anti-Indian” track (a protest song against fascism that pulls no punches) from his album Therukural, surrounded by a crowd who sang along gleefully with phone flashlights on.

Image courtesy Arul Cool and Neelam Culture Centre

Image courtesy Arul Cool and Neelam Culture Centre

Image courtesy Arul Cool and Neelam Culture Centre

The Margazhyil Makkalisai event 

Bringing back Therukural to the public space was an ideal way to lead the upcoming Margazhyil Makkalisai (loosely translating to people’s music in the month of Marghazhil) and promote the event, say Arivu. “Therukural, like Margazhyil Makkalisai, is a platform for musicians still struggling to find one. We hope that both will open doors for them,” he notes. 

The first edition of Margazhiyil Makkalisai, organised by Neelam Culture Centre (an anti-caste and social justice movement), was held in Chennai in December 2020, which brought together over 350 folk artists. Pop, hip-hop, gaana, oppari, thenmangu and many other folk music traditions were performed at various venues such as Vanni Mahal and Raja Annamalai Mandram in Chennai. 

This year, Margazhiyil Makkalisai will be a multi-city event, starting with Madurai, then Coimbatore and then events spread across eight days in Chennai, starting on December 24.

The Margazhi music season has been synonymous with the Carnatic music sabas. In Chennai, the event is mostly organised in venues across the Brahmin-dominated Mylapore area. “If Marghazhi is a music season, how come a parai (the percussion instrument considered "impure" by upper castes) cannot share a stage with the other musical instruments at a kutcheri?” asks Arivu. 

“Our Makkalisai event is a way to ensure that many genres of music get representation. It is an attempt to mainstream these cultures too. Hopefully, it serves to help get the musicians the recognition they need.”

This year, Marghazhyil Makkalisai will be a ticketed event in Chennai, while the entry in Madurai and Coimbatore, where the event will be happening for the first time, will be free. Across eight days, Chennai will see oppari, gaana, parai and indie rap and performances by well-known groups such Bhuddar Kalali Kuzhu. The Casteless Collective is set to kick off New Years’ Eve with the closing ceremony.

Tickets to Marghazhyil Makkalisai can be booked at the following link: