2014 concludes paves way for a new beginning for inspired youngsters

2014 concludes paves way for a new beginning for inspired youngsters

SPIC MACAY and the Nehru Centre recently concluded a week-long festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance, ‘Virasat 2014’ in London at the Nehru Centre from July 28 to August 1, 2014.  This first of its kind exhibition and series of programmes through the week were very well received by locals. SPIC MACAY (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) is a voluntary movement which organises about 8000 events in 1500 schools and colleges in 400 cities around the world every year to promote Indian classical music and culture. The Nehru Centre is the cultural wing of the Indian High Commission headed by Minister of Culture Sangeeta Bahadur under the direction of High Commissioner of India Ranjan Mathai.

The London Virasat 2014 festival brought together children, youth and local communities in London and the classical arts in a most interactive and easy-to-understand manner. The festival was attended by people from all walks of life (including well known personalities) and all ages – from school children to university students, families to senior professionals, counsillors to educationists and it also brought together some old SPIC MACAY volunteers who had lost touch with the movement for years!

The London Virasat festival opened with an audio visual presentation to introduce various forms of Indian classical music and dance. There was also a beautiful exhibition curated and made by children between 6 to 15 years on the same theme. Sarod maestro Ustad Wajahat Khan spoke on cultural preservation, evolution and the role of SPIC MACAY in promoting India’s classical arts for 37 years in India and around the world. Ustad Wajahat Khan’s father, the legendary Ustad Imrat Khan, had presented one the first concert for SPIC MACAY back in 1981. ¬Through the event a Bharatanatyam dance workshop was conducted for beginners and children by Guru Usha Raghavan (July 29). Lecture-demonstration programme by Padma Shri awardee Kathak Guru Pratap Pawar (July 29) left audience overwhelmed especially after he performed his composition of Bahadur Shah Zafar’s ghazal dedicated to his love for India. Bharatanatyam Guru Usha Raghavan (July 30) demonstrated the beautiful stories of Krishna leela and spoke of the dance form’s evolution from temples to the stage. Ustad Wajahat Khan (August 1) gave a brilliant introduction to Indian music giving a detailed comparative account between the western music and Indian music. He not only played pieces on the sarod but also on sitar but was accompanied by artistes from Rajasthan, India who played Sarangi and Tabla.

Speaking to the media, Ms. Bahadur said, “The Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indian High Commission have been encouraging and inviting artistes from India to perform at the Nehru Centre. We are pleased with the response received for Virasat 2014 and that it has inspired several members of the local community.”

Councillor Natasha Sheikh who attended the closing ceremony along with Councillor Amit (both from the Ealing constituency) enjoyed the sitar and sarod lecture-demonstration recital by Ustad Wajahat Khan and commended SPIC MACAY for having organised a programme of this format and scale. She was particularly impressed by the exhibition and said, “The artwork done by children was incredible. It is a great initiative and must be extended to other youngsters, especially those from the Indian ethnicity as this is their cultural heritage.”

Congratulating the team of volunteers for the grand success of the festival, Executive Chairman of Global Gene Corp, Sumit Jamuar, who serves as Chairman of the UK Advisory Board for SPIC MACAY, said, “We have been delighted by the success of London Virasat 2014 and exceptionally touched by the response from the community. The desire for understanding and experiencing our rich Indian cultural heritage and the accompanying arts has truly been incredible. The spirit of volunteerism is truly alive to organise a festival of this scale. Finally, it is through the generous support of The Nehru Centre and ICCR that we have been able to host the inaugural London Virasat”.”
Says one participant Anisha Safaya, “it was the first time for me and my friends to learn about ragas and their importance in Indian classical music. The format of the programmes was such that we not only learnt the basics of the ragas and various techniques, but also got to watch the maestros perform for us like in a concert.”

Anjelli Wignakumar, a student of Bharatanatyam was delighted to be a part of London Virasat. She said, “It is a great honour to be able to experience our culture and heritage because being brought up in this country, not everyday we are exposed to the way older generations used to live. I feel it is very important that us, the younger generation, explore and delve into our ancestors’ culture and ensure it is not lost. I have found my way of doing this; through the arts. My guru also gave me the chance to dance in Chidamabaram (a temple in Tamil Nadu, India) where Lord Natarajah resides. I addressed the deity directly and I felt an emotional change in the way I danced. From that day on, I danced with more understanding and valued this beautiful art form much more. I hope the work of SPIC MACAY carries on as it is a great learning curve for all those involved and I wish them all the best.”

One of the parents of a child who did the artwork for the exhibition, Mrs. Vemury said, “attended a programme after very long time with Indian culture and flavour. Hats off to Spic Macay and looking forward to contribute to this movement in whatever possible way. Kids really enjoyed and confidently spoke in the stage.”

Chief Executive for SPIC MACAY (UK) Lakshmi Kaul sees this as a mere introduction to the work of SPIC MACAY and wants the movement to reach the entire student community across England. She adds, “Virasat 2014 was intended to provide an experiential introduction to India’s classical music and dance to the audience. We are delighted to see such overwhelming response to our programmes. It is heartening to see how the audience have responded positively to our effort and now want to be a part of this movement in whatever way is possible. We hope to take Virasat next year to schools and colleges all over England and make it a series of programmes across locations as opposed to being held at one place alone. Our vision is to have a heritage club in all schools and colleges one day!”

For more details please visit www.spicmacy.co.uk
Lakshmi Kaul
SPIC MACAY – Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth
Tel: +44-7896851813     Email: london@spicmacay.com
@kaullakshmi    or    @spicmacayuk (Twitter)

SPIC MACAY, the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth, is a voluntary youth movement that was established by IIT Delhi professor and Padma Shri awardee Dr.  Kiran Seth in 1977 at IIT Delhi, with the aim of spreading awareness about Indian culture and heritage throughout the country.

SPIC MACAY is a non-profit, registered society formed in India in 1977. SPICMACAY’s objective is to enrich the quality of formal education by increasing awareness about different aspects of Indian and World heritage and inspiring the young mind to imbibe the values embedded in it. For this, the most accomplished artistes render performances in art forms ranging from classical music and dance, folk, poetry, theatre, traditional paintings, crafts & yoga in the premises of an educational institution.

The SPIC MACAY logo is the inner eye that inspires inquiry and introspection to help an individual become a better human being. This non-profit movement is driven by youth volunteers and works with a wide network of schools and universities. Volunteering offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge while being able to experience these art forms.

Besides actual performances by renowned maestros, these events include lecture-demonstrations, film screenings and reviews, heritage walks, yoga and meditation sessions and also workshops in classical and folk arts/crafts. As students observe the classical arts, interact with evolved artists & learn about art forms, they imbibe the beauty, grace, humility and discipline that define heritage.

Rajendra Ganotra is the Editor of Spicy Stars Mumbai

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