For the past three years a group of Ohio State students have been carrying the torch Kiran Seth lit in 1977 as a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.
The Society Promoting Indian Classical Music And Culture Among Youth defines itself as a nonprofit student organization that is on of the hundreds of chapters scattered throughout the world.
SPICMACAY “contributes to the diversity and richness of cultural life at OSU,” said Udo Will, professor of ethnomusicology and adviser to the group. “Their events are splendid occasions for cross-cultural encounters and exchange.”
Group members plan events based on student interest. Concerts, dance workshops and food tastings are a few of the ideas pitched at the first meeting of the quarter.
“This year it looks like we are going to develop more along the dance side,” said Sarada Eleswarpu, a fourth-year in biomedical science and president of SPICMACAY.
Will said part of the framework of SPICMACAY is to offer students from India, or those with an Indian background at OSU, a cultural link to their country of origin.
In 1976, when Seth was listening to Western music, he stumbled across a newspaper advertisement for a concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, where singers Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar were to perform classic Indian music.
Heavily influenced by the traditional Indian music he heard, Seth founded the society a year later.
“The music carries a heavy form of tradition,” said Braden Ellingsen, an international studies major and cabinet member of the group. “In Indian tradition, musicians earn the honorary title of Pandit or Ustad.”
One of the organization’s goals is to blur the line separating the younger generations from seemingly extrinsic arts of the past.
“We prefer to think of it as fighting against cultural delusion,” Eleswarpu said. “Encouraging the fine arts is how we pass on tradition and culture.”