Dr S. CHAKRAVARTHY, IAS ( R ), PRESIDENT
SOUTH INDIAN CULTURAL ASSOCIATION (SICA) has a pride of place in the cultural firmament of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh (South India). It has traversed more than fifty years since it was born in 1959. The year 2009 was a landmark year, when SICA celebrated its GOLDEN JUBILEE with serenity and joy making its respectful bow to the art lovers and connoisseurs of culture in the twin cities.
While in the beginning of its life, SICA stood for and carried forward the culture of SOUTH, more particularly of Tamil Nadu and Chennai, it has transcended that narrow canvas to envelop the more orchestrated expanse of the entire South India. Over the last two decades of the previous millennium and till now, SICA has further made a foray into the cultural expanse of the entire country, South, North, East and West. Our cultural menu includes classical Carnatic Music, classical Hindusthani Music, Folk Music, Tamil dramas, Telugu dramas, dances of different styles, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Andhra Natyam, Mohini Attam, Kathakali, Kathak etc. In other words, SICA exudes a Bohemian approach in its service to art lovers. Geographical, linguistic and partisan barriers have no place in SICA’s sweep and ambit. Fragrance of India informs its cultural offer to art lovers.
SICA’s Membership includes connoisseurs of music, dance and drama from various States in India. With a slender touch of hyperbole, we would like to draw the attention of the reader to a typical SICA audience, in which a Natarajan from Coimbatore is enjoying a Kathak dance, a Mahapatra is listening happily to a Carnatic flute recital and a Bhattacharya is tapping steps to a rendering of THODI raga by a Telugu artist.
SICA strives not to be constrained by any dogma or wall, be it Dravidian or Aryan culture. It seeks to string different forms of culture into an acceptable garland for the art lovers. It believes in a subtle fusion of the cultures of India in their widest and most meaningful emanations. In the words of Ananda Coomaraswamy,
“Indian art and culture. . . are a joint creation of the Dravidian and the Aryan genius, a welding together of the symbolic and the representative, the abstract and the explicit, of language and thought”.
SICA subscribes to the said welding and fusion. In doing so, SICA believes in the UNITY of Indian art. Members of SICA do not eschew modernity in favour of the traditional. That is the strength and polity of SICA, whose Members encourage the link between tradition and modernity. In this context, it would appear apposite to make a reference to Rabindranath Tagore. He is the most important figure in modern Indian arts and letters. Narayana Menon has noted thus:
“Though it is as a poet that Tagore will be judged by posterity, he was also a novelist, short story writer, dramatist, painter, musician, and educator. No modern writer has given utterance to uniquely Indian traditions and traditional values in more eloquent or moving language, whether in poetry, music, or drama. His great ability to work music, dance, and drama into a unified whole, and to meld ancient truths, fables, and legends with contemporary experience, reflected the unity of his being and of his art”..
SICA Members seem to have drawn inspiration from Tagore’s thoughts and approach. New winds of change are blowing and new flowers are blooming. Many youngsters are rooting for Indian culture, both traditional and modern. The situation calls for the greatest catholicity of tastes. To quote Narayana Menon again:
“There is the noble heritage of “classical” music, the mainstream of every tradition and the accumulated heritage of centuries. This has to be preserved and enriched, its hidden beauties revealed to the public. There is the rich and variegated treasure house of folk music. This has to be discovered, resuscitated, and placed in its correct perspective. There are the new types of creative impulses and experimental music. These are to be encouraged. There is the vast and growing repertoire of light music, jazz, and other types designed primarily to please and sometimes to titillate the sense. Here, cheap and debasing vulgarizations have to be set aside in favor of clean styles and genuine craftsmanship. Good taste is an indefinable attribute, of which custodianship is both a tricky and thankless job. Still one must act, following liberal human values without losing a sense of proportion”.
Endorsing what Menon has advised, SICA strives to ACT and serve the art lovers. Obama exhorted the American citizens by saying “YES. WE CAN”.
SICA echoes the exhortation: “YES, SICA CAN”.