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SPIC MACAY logo.jpg
Formation 1977
Headquarters Delhi
Kiran Seth
Website www.spicmacay.com

The Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) is a voluntary youth movement which promotes intangible aspects of Indian cultural heritage by promoting Indian classical music, classical dance, folk music, yoga, meditation, crafts and other aspects of Indian culture; it is a movement with chapters in over 300 towns all over the world.[1] SPIC MACAY was established by Dr. Kiran Seth in 1977 at IIT Delhi.[2][3][4]

It seeks to foster the traditional Indian values and to generate awareness of the cultural traditions and heritage of India. In order to achieve its goals, SPICMACAY organizes concerts, lectures, demonstrations, workshops, informal discussions, and talks by eminent scholars and thinkers. These programs are hosted in schools and colleges with support of the local chapters of the organization.


Kiran Seth, a young graduate from IIT Kharagpur, was studying for his doctorate at the Columbia University, New York, when he chanced to attend a Dhrupad concert by Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Fariddudin Dagar at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City.[5]

On his return to India in 1976, he started teaching and doing research work at IIT Delhi, where he got together with students and started SPIC MACAY in 1977,[6] and its first concert by Dagar Brothers was held at IIT Delhi on March 28, 1978.[6]

The first Lecture-Demonstration series was held in 1979, with six artistes, including Sonal Mansingh, Birju Maharaj, Asad Ali Khan, the younger Dagar Brothers and Munawar Ali Khan who performed in a few colleges in Delhi.

Today SPIC MACAY has some 500 chapters around the world and holds around 6,000 events annually,[5][7] mostly in educational institutions, but occasionally in "public" venues like town halls or community parks.

Some of its major activities include: FEST series, VIRASAT series, National Conventions for students and teachers, National School Intensives, Music in the Park, the SPIC MACAY Scholarship Programme, heritage walks, talks by eminent thinkers, yoga and meditation camps, screening of classic cinema etc. Lately it has also started getting international artistes from other equally rich cultures to perform in India.[8]

The movement[edit]

SPIC MACAY is an affirmation of:-

  • a priceless cultural heritage rooted in what is essentially Indian. With the onslaught of rapid change and global homogenization, this multifaceted Indian heritage is being increasingly marginalized and diluted. SPIC MACAY seeks to conserve and promote an awareness of this rich and heterogeneous cultural tapestry amongst the youth of this country through focus on the classical arts, with their attendant legends, rituals, mythology and philosophy and to facilitate an awareness of their deeper and subtler values.
  • the pulsating and dynamic vitality of the young person. The movement incorporates this vitality to cajole them into being custodian of what is actually their birthright, namely their heritage, roots and identity. It seeks to provoke thought and a genuine spirit of enquiry in the young.
  • a solid value-based education, which involves the absorption of aesthetics and spirituality in an increasingly technical, mundane and competitive world. Thus its work is educational in spirit and character and locates itself in educational institutions only.
  • the effectiveness of voluntary work in inculcating a spirit of service. This is, in fact, the hidden agenda of this movement. Volunteers come from all walks of life with varied aspirations and skills. They give some of their time to a cause which is for the larger good and outside of their immediate self-interest. The emphasis is on participation without hierarchy and too much formalism.
  • the need for a more inspired perspective in a world bombarded by too much information. A unique feature of the heritage of India is its inbuilt characteristic of introspection and a philosophy that transcends mere intellectualism.
  • all that is beautiful, lofty and wholesome, of the sensitive, kind and gentle human being who is inspired and in turn inspires.

Genesis of the movement[edit]

In the words of Dr Kiran Seth:

“As students of the [Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur] during the late sixties, many of us were into western music in fact, everything that was western. One staff member every year would organize a whole night of Indian classical music called the ‘Green Amateurs Night’ (I still have to figure out why this name!). It was held in a big pandal and we would go basically to look at the ‘interesting’ people who had come to listen to the concerts. Classical music was the last priority for. Years passed. We graduated and many of us went abroad. While doing my PhD at Columbia University in New York in the early seventies, I came across a small advertisement in a weekly newspaper ‘Village Voice’. It was about an upcoming Dhrupad concert by Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Fariddudin Dagar at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, under the aegis of the Asia society. A group of us said ‘Chalo dekhen’ (not ‘sure’). None of us knew what dhrupad was or who the Dagars were. I went into the concert walking on ground but came out walking an inch above it. A seed planted during my IIT days had emerged as a wondrous plant. The ‘black box’ concept in science could describe it quite appropriately. I knew the input to the box and the output, but not what took place inside. I realized, what had happened to me could happen to others too. Under the aegis of the India Club of Columbia University, I started organizing concerts of great classical Indian artistes passing through New York. I also started learning Indian classical music. After completion of my PhD, I joined Bell Labs in New Jersey but kept in touch with the concerts and continued my own learning. In 1976 when I returned to India to teach at IIT Delhi, I remember asking my students if anyone had ever heard the name of one of the greatest sitar players Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, who was alive at that time. Not a single student raised his hand. It rang an alarm bell and we decided to do something about it. At that time I was teaching Operations Research to the final year ME students. With this batch we set up MEFORG (Mechanical Engineering Final Year Operational Research Group) and decided to organize a concert. We publicized it widely and I was quite sure that we would be able to fill at least half of our Convocation Hall, which has a capacity of about 1500. Five minutes before the concert, there were about five people in hall. When it began, there might have been about ten and by the time the first raga got over, we were back to five. A disastrous start. But we said, never say die. Next year the entire class got involved, making it a MEFYS (Mechanical Engineering Final Year Students) presentation. Having learnt from our past mistakes, this programme was marginally successful.
"After this, the movement spread organically. Students from other colleges agreed to organize similar programmes and a new catchy name SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) was given to the movement. It soon spread to other cities. In 1981, schools joined in too. Though we began with classical music, over years other facets of our heritage such as folk music, yoga and meditation, crafts, talks by inspired writers, painters, philosophers, social activists and environmentalists, walks to the monuments with historians, theatre, film classics and even holistic food were included in the gamut of its activities. Initially, it was very difficult to get the best artists perform for a pittance. I remember going to meet Ustad Bismillah Khan at the Crown Hotel in Fatehpuri, Chandni Chowk. Despite my elaborate discussion on how his help would change the face of the Indian youth, he refused to cooperate when I told him we had practically no money to offer. But I did not give up and something about the sincerity of my efforts might have struck him. He finally agreed to perform for SPIC MACAY. Pandit Birju Maharaj, Vidushi Sonal Mansingh, Pandit Jasraj, The Dagar Brothers, Dr T.N. Krishnan, Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan were among the initial group of artistes who consented to support the movement. Most of our other great artistes pitched in later and helped it grow further."


The movement caught the imagination of young people and began to grow geographically and numerically. While on the one hand, the idea had to be painstakingly introduced in minor doses, on the other, there was a clamoring for the programs in schools and colleges. A combination of both has resulted in network of over 300 centers in India and 50 centers abroad. About 5,000 events are conducted yearly.


  • 1972 The "Big Bang" - conception of the Idea behind SPIC MACAY.
  • 1972-76 Programmes at Columbia University, New York under the aegis of the India Club of Columbia University.
  • 1978 First programme at IIT Delhi, under the banner of MEFORG (Mech Engg Final Year Op Research Group).
  • 1979 A two-day programme at IIT Delhi under the banner of the MEFYS (Mech Engg Final Year Students).

Creation of the SPIC MACAY name.

First lecture-demonstration series LEC-DEM'79 conducted outside IIT.

  • 1980 First Annual festival FEST'80, conducted all over Delhi.
  • 1982 First lecture-demonstration in Schools.
  • 1986 Introduction of Folk arts and crafts.

Start of the Gurukul Scholarship Scheme.

First Annual Convention held at Hyderabad.

  • 1988 First programme abroad - Pandit Jasraj sang at the University of Connecticut at Hartford.
  • 1991 'THE EYE’ Magazine released as a thought provoking ‘written word movement’ for the Youth.
  • 1993 First schools' convention held at Delhi Public School, R.K Puram.
  • 1995 Virasat, a festival comprising all aspects of Heritage was launched for the first time in Dehradun.

SPIC MACAY conducts programmes in Pakistan.

SPIC MACAY takes a delegation of artistes to perform in Pakistan.

  • 2008 Cultural co-operation extended to Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland.
  • 2010 Partnership with ICCR - The Heritage Series is born - exposing foreign students in India to our culture
  • 2010 Partnership with 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee to promote Delhi 2010.
  • 2011 First rural school intensive held at Narendrapur village in Siwan district of Bihar.
  • 2013 First International Convention, known for its mass participation of more than 2500 delegates & first ever HD webcast by AddiQtd.com held at IIM Kolkata with delegates from Pakistan, Hungary, Japan & other countries.

Number of programmes[edit]

From its first concert in 1978 at IIT Delhi, it has grown geographically and in content to over 300 centers in India and 50 abroad. Over 6,000 events are conducted annually. And it has done so by engaging the youth at the grass-root level of early schooling years, for the exposure as well as in the organisation of programs.


The various activities conducted by SPIC MACAY include:


Lecture demonstrations are crucial components of programmes of Indian Classical Music and Dance. They aim to create an audience that can appreciate our classical heritage. These programmes are more informal than that of concerts and facilitate a closer interaction between the students and the artists. Here the artists demonstrate the art forms with the help of explanations, thereby, making their art form easily comprehensible. The rapport thus created helps the student develop a wholesome understanding of not only the art form but also the artist as a practitioner of a certain way of life. LEC-DEMs are conducted at regular intervals at Public schools, government schools and colleges, even apart from the series like VIRASAT or FEST.

Folk art & crafts[edit]

While the movement lays greater stress on the classical forms, it recognises the multitudes of folk arts and crafts of the country. Therefore, with a view of exposing students to these, SPIC MACAY encourages programmes through individual events of folk fests and craft workshops


Inspiring talks are organised by enlightened persons from various walks of life. The topics maybe anything as varied as the arts, environment, philosophy, development, spirituality, literature and the folk arts. These talks are held periodically in sub-chapters and chapters throughout the year. An ideal setting for the talks is the weekly meeting, which not only enlivens the meeting but also provides inspiration to the SPIC MACAY workers.

Other activities[edit]

Other related activities, like workshops, essays, exhibitions, films, celebration of national / local festivals, environment and nature care, study tours to places of cultural importance, quizzes, debates, panel discussions and other culture related activities, are also an integral part of a series like VIRASAT or FEST.

Parampara Fest[edit]

The Parampara Festival series, held in the latter half of the academic year, is a chain of concerts conducted in a concert format with a more formal presentation, featuring the exponents of Indian Classical Music and Dance. The aim of this series is to inspire the student community with the “real thing”, which will be sustained as they attend more and more LEC-DEMs and Baithaks. The festival series also provides the student community to witness several young and upcoming artistes perform in separate slots with the senior artists. It also has other modules.


Main article: Virasat (festival)

Virasat is a festival comprising performances and workshops in folk and classical arts, literature, art and craft, talks, theatre, films and yoga, held in different educational institutions. It is aimed at a close interaction between students, artistes and craftsmen. It is held during the first half of the academic year. Parampara is like a mini Virasat, and it features 2-5 of the modules above

Yoga/holistic Camps[edit]

Yoga, greatly neglected as a form of inner growth, is fostered in our Yoga camps, and conducted by authentic yogacharyas. Holistic Camps are live-in camps where students and others stay for a given period of time away from their hum-drum normal routine to experience another way of living focussed on simplicity, good health and spiritual training. A typical day would include Yoga, meditation, shramdaan, health practices, simple wholesome food, talks, creative workshops, discussions and baithaks. Such an experience leaves one more centred at peace with oneself and the world at large. These camps are held during vacations.


Conventions are held at a state level twice a year (over 1–3 days) and the National Convention is held once a year in the month of May/June (over 6 days), bringing together members of SPIC MACAY from all states at a common platform. It comprises organisational discussions to analyse the previous year’s performance and the plans going forward along with any key challenges. It also features talks, films, crafts, yoga, classical and folk performances by maestros.


The Baithaks are informal chamber performances, not held in a proscenium setting. It is geared to create the upasak-rasik relationship, i.e., the transmission of creative joy from the artiste to the audience. Baithaks sustain the interests between the FEST and the Virasat series.

Weekly meetings[edit]

The weekly meetings are an integral part of the voluntary movement where the volunteers meet for organisation and conceptual purposes.Usually the weekly meeting is organised on every Friday/Saturday at a specific venue where all the members of that chapter meets together.

Gurukul Anubhav Scholarship[edit]

This scholarshipscheme helps students to stay for a month with enlightened and evolved persons (Gurus), who can be from the field of classical music, dance, literature, religion, yoga, traditional medicine, arts and social work. This time away from their normal routine while experiencing another way of life, focussed on voluntary work, simplicity, and an inward journey, could start off a journey of discovery for the students. Scholarships are offered once a year in the month of May/June.

The Eye magazine[edit]

The Eye is SPIC MACAY’s quarterly magazine of inspired thought and is written word movement. The Eye covers the arts, literature, development and philosophy.

Sandesh Newsletter[edit]

It is SPIC MACAY’s bi-monthly newsletter started in 1994. It aims to provide good, solid reading based on information and inspiration. For hundreds of volunteers spread across the country Sandesh is an important tool of communication, which also provides a platform for a meaningful interaction among all the members.

SPIC MACAY Foundation/Communication[edit]

It has been formed to facilitate the raising of finances. It organises events for the corporates and other bodies, releases cassettes and video recordings on a profit sharing basis. It markets SPIC MACAY greeting cards, T-shirts, etc. The profits from all the above are fed back into SPIC MACAY.

World heritage group[edit]

Its aim is to bring the best of world heritage to the youth in educational institutions in India. This includes performances, workshops and talks on Western Classical Music, Gregorian Chants, Jazz and Theatre.

Music in the Park series[edit]

The series has been introduced a few years ago. The Classical Music and Dance extravaganza held at large municipal parks is Delhi and Jaipur are aimed at exposing a wider spectrum of society to the rich heritage of India.

National School Intensives[edit]

National School Intensives are a 5-6 day intensive experience for school students covering Yoga and meditation, classical music and dance performances by maestros, and craft and painting workshops. They are attempts to bring the ashram concept to the student and are held once a year. Here students learn to enjoy the richness of our culture.

Organizational structure[edit]

The "voluntary youth movement" as it is called, the organisation structure of SPIC MACAY is very decentralised and democratic in its functioning involving college students/youth as its office bearers.

It has a national executive body which is elected every two years. Each state has a central state facilitator based in New Delhi and a state coordinator in the respective state capital as well as chapter coordinators in different regions of the state. There are also various heads for publicity, finance, artiste management and programming scheduling.

All chapters have a similar system of governance with a Chairman, Secretary(a student) and a Treasurer.

Some years ago the organization also formed an Advisory Board consisting of eminent personalities from all walks of life.

Awards and recognition received by SPIC MACAY and Kiran Seth[edit]

Member of[edit]


  1. ^ Origin Arizona State University.
  2. ^ Dr. Kiran Seth Profile
  3. ^ About us SPICMACAY Official Website
  4. ^ West wind leaves heritage in a shambles The Telegraph, June 5, 2006
  5. ^ a b About us Official website.
  6. ^ a b Intro www.nith.ac.in
  7. ^ About us Hong Kong Chapter.
  8. ^ [1]

External links[edit]