Thursday, 29 January 2009

Kirtan by Candlelight.

January's candle-lit kirtan had a special quality. A strong spiritual atmosphere rose up as the large gathering sang out heartily. This was a happy ending to a near disaster! Mariola, who was to have been our lead singer for the day came down with 'flu that morning, and it was only thanks to Ranchor's stepping into the breach at the eleventh hour that we had a kirtan at all! Thank you Ranchor. And thanks to everyone who came and made it so good.

It seemed easier, somehow, to focus on the chanting in the softer lighting. The evening ended with delicious pizza, fudge and peppermint tea.

One chanter wrote to us: "That was a wonderful kirtan yesterday! I really liked the candle-lit atmosphere and the lovely mood. Ranchor is perfect for Oxford. And it was wonderful to see so many new faces. I thought the fir-cone decor was chic and seasonal and cosy and Cathedral-like all at the same time."

Mariola is better now and plans to be with us in February.

Many thanks to Claire for these rich, Rembrandtish photos! (They get bigger and better if you click on them) . Podcasts coming soon!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Crowd goes wild in Washington, D.C.

While crowds went wild yesterday, at Barrack Obama's inauguration ceremony, people danced and chanted "Obama, Obama!"

The previous day, thousands gathered at the Church of the Holy City, within sight of the White House, and burst into exuberant chanting and dancing to ancient, sacred mantras - "O Rama, O Rama"

The first "Inaugural" kirtan, Chant4change, was a huge success. Tickets were sold out days in advance, and to facilitate those who hadn't managed to get one, there was a live webcast. All the most famous American kirtaniyas appeared and sang, such as Jai Uttal, Krishna das, Gaura vani, Shiva Rea, David Stringer and more.

From the very young to the quite elderly, everyone there felt it to be a tremendous occasion. Gaura vani who conceived the idea and orchestrated the event is a young kirtaniya of extraordinary energy and dedication - he has a website here. from which you can buy his CD. I have it and it is excellent!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

More Jahnavi...

Jahnavi chanting during her trip to the USA. (See previous post!)

Monday, 19 January 2009


Jahnavi Harrison came to our Oxford Kirtan in November, with her sister Tulasi, and led us in rousing style. She's written a report of her visit to Oxford in her blog The Little Conch. You can read it here. Jahnavi has been taking part in kirtan since birth (and before!) and now, in her early twenties, has blossomed into a talented kirtaniya, in demand all over the world with her violin and singing. Most recently, she has toured in South Africa and the USA. Jahnavi's blog is worth reading for it's thoughtful posts about her life and her honest struggles for spirituality. If you're a blog reader you might like to check it out.

Rumour has it that we may have another visit from Jahnavi soon; we look forward to that...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The January Kirtan... a Kirtan by Candle-light!

Mariola from Poland and Meru from Sweden will lead us in a variety of chants and mantras, accompanied by harmonium, clay drums and kartals. Refreshments of a delicious kind will be served afterwards.

Join us if you can!

Sunday, January 18th. The Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles. 4.00 p.m.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Chant For Change...

This jovial cartoon was designed for Chant4Change. Chant4Change, an intrepid group of chanters in Washington DC, have organised a prestigious kirtan event for the inauguration of the new president, next week. You can read about it and even buy a tee-shirt here. If any of our readers live in Washington, there are still some tickets left. And Mr Obama, if you are reading this - why not go along too! All proceeds to charity.

I like the way the cartoon shows chanting as transcending the differences between so many designations and bringing all into a consciousness of harmony and delight. And the inference in the name chant4change that the change so many people are hoping and longing for can only come from a purified heart, free from the negative qualities of greed and selfish desires.

The inspiration for the cartoon must surely have come from the episode pictured below of the medieval saint Sri Chaitanya, chanting and dancing with wild animals in Jarakhanda forest.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

December Kirtan Report and Pics.

In December our Oxford kirtan group was joined by Ranchor Prime, who led us to a blissful kirtan experience. Ranchor gave a talk about the role the heart, mind and body take in the process of chanting. He described how chanting is not a mechanical process, it happens not on our tongues, but in our hearts. It is a transcendental inner experience. When we pronounce the syllables, the heart begins resonating with the sound.

Again we realised that there is nothing like the magic of chanting together with all kirtan participants adding their energy to the chant.

Many thanks to Irina for the report and to Pavel for the photos.