A Series of Baithaks

A classic Indian way of imparting art and culture to budding individuals is through discourses where an expert discusses intricate facets of the art with their students or peers. This facilitates rich and healthy conversations on various art forms. SPIC MACAY emulates this through its baithak series that runs throughout the year. Focusing on SPIC MACAY’s core idea of preserving and promoting lost artforms, the baithak series brought this diversity with topics ranging from Madhubani to vocal artforms to even Urdu Poetry.

In 2022, Spic Macay Europe – Switzerland conducted a baithak on Dhrupad, which is the oldest style of Hindustani classical music dating back to the musical schools of the great Tansen and Surdas. This very insightful session was led by Shri Amit Sharma, a dhrupad vocalist based in Zurich. This baithak discussed the variations and convolutions of the taal in Dhrupad. The session also emphasised the subtle differences between other forms of Hindustani music such as the use of pakhavaj for the beat in Dhrupad as compared to the use of tabla in the latter. The conversation also delved in to the melodic parallels between Dhrupad and Khayal, Dhrupad and Carnatic and took the audience back in time to the history of Hindustani Music, its august gharanas and the inception of contemporary Hindustani music.

The next piece in our baithak series was dedicated to Madhubani, a vintage style of painting that originated from the Mithila region of Nepal and India. The session was conducted by Vasudha Raghavan, a Madhubani artist who showcased this captivating art form through her extensive portfolio of work. The session discussed various styles of Madhubani such as Bharni, Katchni, Godhna, Kobhar and Tantrik which bring their unique identities with an intriguing play of colours, patterns and geometry. Vasudha ji also shed light on how instrumental Madhubani painting sessions can be for those with Autism and hand-eye coordination related disorders, validating the role of artforms in our mental and physical well-being.

SPIC MACAY – Switzerland once again came together for their first heritage lunch, Ghazal-O-Nazm Nama a discussion about the interpretations of Urdu Poetry at Irchel Park, led by Zulekha. Blending with the beauty of the nature, the afternoon was enchanted by the essence of Nazms and Ghazals followed by hearty conversations over a lunch.

For another episode in melody, Shashank Subramanyam’s lecture demonstration on flute honoured the mellifluous prowess and versatility of the flute through the tunes of Carnatic music. Shashank Subramanyam’s demonstration and study of various ragas through the modulations of the flute invoked interesting questions and emotions from the audience on the flute’s spectacular ability to provide depth to musical pieces.

Continuing on Dhrupad’s wonderful legacy, the May of 2023 saw Ustad Bahaudin Dagar wield the Rudra veena to emote tunes of brilliance. Bahauddin Dagar represents the Dagarbani gharana of dhrupad music and had the crowd engrossed with his near-hour long rendition of Raag Yaman’s distinctive tunes. Bahauddin Dagar spoke at length about the significance of the Rudra Veena and how it has taken a sustainable route with the way its manufactured in modern times. The music and the instrument left a profound impact on the diverse audience, with many Europeans engaging with the artist post-event to discuss the various nuances of Dhrupad.

Abhishek Rajaram
Co-ordinator, SPIC MACAY Netherlands