What is Kirtan?

Last night I met my friend Sarah invited me along to an event at the Yoga Loft in Delmar NY. She had asked me to go with her-but to be frank-I sort of forgot what she said it was-probably because I didn't recognize the name "Kirtan" when she did mention it.

I told you about the feelings I had yesterday-well they stuck with me all day so I decided getting out with a friend would be good-no matter what it was for (hey what could be bad at a yoga loft?)

For those of you who also don't know what Kirtan is:
one of the pillars of Sikhism and in that context refers to the singing of the sacred hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib to set music normally in classical Raags format. The Sikhs place huge value on this type of singing and a Sikh is duty bound to listen and/or sing Guru-Kirtan as frequently as possible.

The Music traditionally has been Indian Classical Music, which is based on Ragas and taal (rhythmic beat patterns). Traditionally the Indian musical instruments the Harmonium and Tabla were used for this type of music. The Sikh Scripture contain 31 Ragas and 17 talas which form the basis for Kirtan music compositions.

While most Hindus and Sikhs devoutly sing Kirtan in its more traditional form, there are smaller groups that experiment with incorporation of non-Indian instruments like the guitar and interspersing Western themes like jazz into the fold.

(oh gosh I sure hope my inlaws aren't reading this-they would surely think this was strange:)

Kirtan isn't strange to me-in a way it reminded me of many of the meditation groups I went to with my mom as a child-and of the ashram we visited in India when I was 9.

Anyway-what a powerful experience it was. It made me want to join a choir. Do you think that is a leap-Kirtan-to choir? Well....I always sang in Choir and I think a choir would be easier to find than a Kirtan group.:)

Anyway-The sing and response format was great-the drums were powerful-the singing was melodic, fairylike, and downright comforting.

I swear I felt something attuned to my chakras aligning as I chanted along-mumbling the words I didn't know:)

Here is a sample-the link should bring you to DavidNewmanMusic There is a small window bottom left-I think #4 was the most powerful for me. I must admit that when I saw the name on the sheet before we started singing it-I thought of bouncing bald Hare Krishnas in the airport and then myself amongst them and it made me smile a bit. Once we started and the crecendo began-I couldn't help but dance on my mat and sing as loud as possible.

When Sarah and I said goodnight we both had hoarse voices:)

Oh and yesterday I decided to make a small remember to dance pendant. I made an extra one in case anyone is also in need of a reminder-I have put it up on my storeMonarch.

It reads in small writing: "Dance, Clap , and Jiggle as if all your dreams have already come true" This picture of a monarch caterpillar looks like he is dancing-doesn't it?


Anonymous Sarah e. Smith said...

Hi sweetie...im so glad that you came with me and had a good time. Hare Krishna was my favorite mantra too... i have heard it sung before and have always wanted the experience of singing it myself in a group/kirtan like that...it was a memorable experience and I am glad I was able to share it with you :) i hope to post about it soon, maybe tonight if I can stay awake...oh, my voice feels much better today after drinking some nice twig tea :) xxoo

8/12/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thea, you should definitely join a choir if you are interested! Singing is great, cheap therapy.

You might also want to see if any of the churches in your area offer a taize prayer service - usually Catholic churches, but sometimes Episcopal. It's very meditative and repetitive music, sung by everyone. It is both restful and uplifting.

8/12/2007 8:44 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

morning girlie...i am diggin this post! wow - you went to an ashram when you were 9, i can't even imagine getting that experience. i have learned so much more about you. thanks for that little window.

8/13/2007 8:05 AM  
Anonymous ceanandjen said...

Yes, he does look like he is dancing, and I love the different shape and look of the pendant.

I am glad that you had this time to be touched and reconnect with yourself.


8/14/2007 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Frida said...

I have never been a good singer, but I love yoga chanting (as long as I imagine no-one is listening). There must be something physical and spiritual that gets released when we let our voices free, don't you think?

You photos are - as always - stunning.

8/17/2007 3:03 PM  

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