Thursday April 26, 2018

SPIC MACAY : Preserving and promoting culture among youth

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Picture Courtesy: Maharaja Agrasen College
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Picture Courtesy: Maharaja Agrasen College

Picture Courtesy: Maharaja Agrasen College

By Meghna Nair

Culture is an inherent part of a society and its people. With time, like all dynamic and transient entities, culture too, undergoes certain changes. Indian culture is one of the most ancient cultures in today’s world. However with the passage of time, it, too, has lost some of its classical art- forms.

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The Society for Promoting Indian Classical Music and Culture among Youth (SPIC MACAY) is one of the organizations dedicated to preserving and promoting Indian classical art-forms, which have been essential components of Indian culture.

The emphasis of this organization is to expose the children and the youth to Indian classical art forms.

SPIC MACAY was started in 1977, by Dr. Kiran Seth, a Professor of IIT-Delhi, with the aim of enriching formal education by exposing people to various aspects of Indian culture and heritage. Since then, it has come a long way. Now their events are organized almost everywhere, from rural to urban districts.

Yamini_Reddy_kuchipudi

According to its official website in 2011-12 alone around 4600+ programmes were organized in more than 1500 institutions in 300 towns in India and 50 towns abroad.

“SPIC MACAY’s aim is really inspiring. We go to different schools where children hardly know about Indian Classical culture. Spreading art among students, who are interested in learning about culture, is an enriching experience. We are asked a number of questions by children, which even makes us feel like why haven’t we thought of that earlier?” Akshaya R., a Bharatanatyam artist with SPIC MACAY, told NewsGram.

Apart from famous classical art forms, SPIC MACAY also promotes less known folk and classical dance forms. It has been a crucial catalyst in uplifting the lesser known art forms of India.

The decadence of Indian art forms

The main cause of decadence of any art form is lack of knowledge. In India barring a famous few, many folk art forms do not have any written literature. They are transferred from one generation to another orally. Thus many of the art forms are now extinct, and several others are endangered.

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Manipuri Dance. Picture Courtesy : Maharaja Agrasen College

Spic Macay aims at restoring the endangered dance forms by bringing them back into the popular culture. This is an important contribution towards reviving and sustaining Indian art forms.

Majority of the Indian artists are virtually unknown. SPIC MACAY has been a huge help to these artists. It not only brings the artists closer to their audience, but also gives a good boost to their careers, as it is supported and endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the HRD Ministry.

Internationally, it is recognized and supported by Rikskonsertene (Norway) and Goethe Institute (Germany) which enables conducting of 300+ concerts by Indian artistes in Scandinavia and Germany, and 200+ concerts by international classical artistes across India, as is stated on the website.

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.