40-year-old Spic Macay is reacquainting India with Indian music and culture

26th Dec 2017
  • +0
Share on
close
  • +0
Share on
close
Share on
close

Non-profit SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Among Youth) has been promoting Indian cultural heritage to also help young people develop an integrated and holistic perspective of the world.

Volunteers interacting with the artists.

Born out of one man’s vision to spread Indian music, culture, and heritage to youth across the country, Spic Macay was started by Kiran Seth, a young graduate from IIT Kharagpur.

“The birth of Spic Macay began at a concert of the Dagar Brothers which I heard, while doing my PhD in New York City. It affected me deeply and I started organising concerts there immediately. On my return to India, I organised the first concert at IIT Delhi in 1977.”

The idea was not well received initially, shares Kiran. “When we started, most people were of the opinion that there were many more important problems that faced mankind. Many of my colleagues, friends and relatives often asked me why I was wasting my time on ‘gaana bajaana’. I must admit that I was often confused and did not know whether I was on the right track, but some intuition kept me going.”

Keeping at his goal of connecting the youth with something that is their own, was what Kiran was after. Spic Macay exposes students to Indian classical music, dance, folk music, yoga, meditation, crafts and other aspects of Indian culture. What started out as unique experiment has worked positively for many students, helping them understand the fine art of living, says 68-year-old Kiran.

A fulfilling experience

Over the last 40 years of Spic Macay’s existence, its activities have comprised of performances and workshops on folk and classical arts held in different educational institutions across the country, and has been made possible by a strong volunteer force.

We have grown organically, falling, but rising each time, and learning all the way, says Supriti, a volunteer for 16 years, and member of the national executive of Spic Macay.

“I was first drawn to the organisation because of a performance by Pandit Birju Maharaj. But, what I didn't know was that I would get pulled into the circle of culture. Today, I enjoy Carnatic music, a form of music that I didn't know existed. Volunteering with Spic Macay has introduced me to a thousand art forms of our country and I'm still discovering.”

Spic Macay believes that experiencing performances, and learning of unknown art forms not only instills a sense of appreciation among the youth, but also shows us how pluralistic our country is. “It shows us that what we've heard as a cliché about the rich cultural heritage actually exists. That, in every 10 km, there's a different way of expressing yourself, a different artform or folk form,” says Supriti.

Spic Macay also focuses on exchange of world heritage, says Akshay Mathur, a volunteer, and finance secretary of the organisation. “As volunteers, we learn new skills of networking, build deeper friendships and also have the opportunity of having close interactions with artists and craftsmen along with students.”

Serving a larger purpose

The volunteer-driven organisation is trying to reinvent parts of our education system for the upbringing of students as more wholesome and mindful human beings.

At the beginning of every academic year, experienced volunteers conduct orientation sessions in schools, colleges and universities. “The design of such an event is simple. The volunteer, or group of volunteers, first screens our introduction video to the audience, and then conducts a session, in either a talk or a discussion format, to bring out the conceptual and organisational basis of Spic Macay to the new students. Interested students are invited to join us for our regular meetings, where they are inducted for one or more volunteer duties,” Akshay explains.

The journey of a Spic Macay volunteer begins with an open heart and a mind ready to learn from experiences. The larger purpose the organisation seeks to address is to incorporate the abstract, subtle, and mystical aspects of our cultural heritage in curriculums, and bring in the habit of introspection and self-enquiry.

Not everything has been a breeze for the team. From tackling primary problems of acceptance, especially in institutions, to bringing world renowned artists to school halls has been a task. “The reason for our growth, despite constant speed bumps over the years, has been the strong belief in the cause and unflinching focus in not straying from the path taken,” says Akshay.

Discussion with artists.

Bengaluru’s first international convention

Spic Macay today conducts about 5,000 events yearly in over 500 towns in India and abroad and has impacted over 3 million students.

The Bengaluru chapter of Spic Macay is organising its first International School Convention at Delhi Public School North with a week-long event from the 24th to the 30th, and will see over 1000 participants, 150 volunteers, and 300 artistes from different parts of the country showcasing their art in 30 workshops, 30 concerts, 7 different forms of yoga and meditation.

“The intent of the convention is to put students in a Gurukul-like environment in the energy field of great masters and hope to see participants touched by performances so that they launch on a voyage trying to discover the limitless variety, beauty and wisdom of Indian heritage,” says Akshay.

At the programme, the day will start with meditation, and “activities will be designed to heighten senses and improve ability to focus. The systematic and strict schedule experience looks strange to many people, but it is normal for great people. The schedule is designed so that every day, students spend three hours at a stretch sitting in one place. It teaches them to concentrate for that long, which is increasingly difficult in a world full of distractions,” says Supriti.

“We want to expand our frontiers and go beyond India to look at beauty in World heritage too. That’s why this time, we have invited a Danish Jazz troupe to perform at the convention,” says Akshay.

The convention will be graced by Padma Bhushan Begum Parween Sultana, talks by Director Shyam Benegal, and Actor Rajit Kapur, among others.

Looking to secure the future

The biggest challenge the movement faces is the lack of financial support. In tune with Spic Macay’s philosophy, participants pay no fee, and the organization relies on donations, and government, corporate, and individual grants and sponsorships.

With exposure to the fine arts over the 40 years, Spic Macay’s work has helped Indian youth to take pride in being Indian, appreciate the intuitive approach to life, and become sensitive to others around them.

  • +0
Share on
close
  • +0
Share on
close
Share on
close
Report an issue
Authors

Related Tags

    Our Partner Events

    Hustle across India