MY FIRST experience with SPIC MACAY was on February 7, 1988 when as a student of class XI I heard the vocal recital by Pt. C.R. Vyas that was organized at my school, The Daly College, Indore. It was part of the FEST’88 series. When a notice was displayed on the school’s main notice board, several questions had came to mind — what is the program all about, how will the students appreciate the recital, how do the students benefit, what does SPIC MACAY stand for, and how can one join SPIC MACAY?

I remember asking these questions to some of the volunteers of SPIC MACAY present at the program and they briefly explained that the aim of SPIC MACAY is to create an awareness of our heritage amongst the youth and that there was no formal procedure to join SPIC MACAY as one can simply volunteer!

But an opportunity to serve the move- ment did not come until I joined the Devi Ahilya University, Indore in 1991 to do my Master’s in Tourism Administration. Now I could purposefully contribute to the move- ment by not only organizing programs but also interacting with artists who would give lecture-demonstrations and performances at educational institutions. A greater in- volvement arose when Dr. Kiran Seth vis- ited Indore in November 1991 and I was delighted to meet a person so committed to involving the youth for a noble cause of creating an awareness of our rich heritage and make it part of the educational system. This gave me an opportunity to understand the idea of SPIC MACAY in a deeper per- spective.

It was only in June 1992 when I at- tended the 7th National Convention at IIM, Bangalore that the true essence of SPIC MACAY was seen. With a large number of volunteers present from across the country, one had the opportunity to make many friends, witness memorable performances by legends of classical music and dance and listen to some of the most inspiring personalities in the field of performing arts.

A National Convention is truly an event, which can, in one sweep, provide a young person the opportunity to meet wonderful people from different spheres of life, working together with a selfless approach for a movement concerned for the preservation of India’s heritage. A similar experience filled me with sense of elation when I had the opportunity to be part of the organizing team of the 10th National Convention, hosted at my alma mater, The Daly College, Indore in June 1995.

After a break from active volunteerism between 1995 and 2000 on account of personal and professional com- mitments, a sudden telephone call one fine day, in April 2000, from Dr. Kiran Seth, tell- ing me the need to revive Indore Chapter, brough back the enthusiasm to get back to the SPIC MACAY spirit. Meetings with old volunteers, principals from schools and col- leges and well-wishers of SPIC MACAY were undertaken and the journey was resumed. Taking the opportunity to attend the 15th National Convention at Fergusson College, Pune in June 2000 made me feel a sense of responsibility to be a part of this effort again.

Soon after we held the Madhya Pradesh State Convention in July 2000 at IPS Academy, Indore and it gave a com- pletely new direction to the movement in the state. We planned a month-long VIRASAT series in January 2001, incorpo- rating a variety of modules like classical music and dance, folk, talks, yoga, etc with the aim to strengthen existing chapters, revive the dead ones and start some new ones. The efforst were hugely successful and satisfying too.

The last National Convention I at- tended was the 19th convention at IIT, Bombay in June 2004. As I entered the huge campus, the excitement to attend the National Convention increased. The rou- tine was the same as it had been for many years-startthedayat5AMandendat11 PM for five consecutive days, including the overnight concert on the last day. I once again experienced a deeper perspective of what our heritage offered. I feel this is re- ally what one looks for in the journey with SPIC MACAY.

Today, it is a great feeling to see the geographical growth of SPIC MACAY. With about 2000 programs being organized in India and abroad covering music, dance, folk, films, talks, walks, workshops, intensives, yoga, etc. in numerous educa- tional institutions is indeed a commendable effort. It remains, perhaps the only non- profit, non-aligned, cultural movement available to the young people that gently coax them towards working as volunteers with notions of selfless service, instilling awareness of our heritage. But efforts must continue as we have achieved little and we must remain focused on what we are aim- ing to achieve.

Today, it has been 22 years with the movement for me and I have always been asked – What does SPIC MACAY mean to you? It has been a very difficult question to answer. For a young person, SPIC MACAY provides the opportunity to blossom from a fine human being to a finer human being filled with inspiration and the willingness to explore all beautiful things in life so that at some stage he / she may begin to inspire others too.