Monday, 28 September 2009

Fire fighting

Mark Anderson led our September kirtan with the expertise born of a lifetime's chanting. His rich, deep voice varied in moods and expression, as he sang a variety of mantras and sacred songs, and we followed merrily on.

We were surprised to learn that Mark is a trainee firefighter, with a love of adventure and a desire to help others. Keshava remarked, in introducing him, that this is entirely befitting a kirtan leader: There is a 16thC Sanskrit poem which describes kirtan as "extinguishing the blazing fire of human suffering". So a fire-fighter in more than one sense!

Mark (aka Madhva) spoke of his involvement with kirtan. Although he grew up with it, he performs it now just because it is such a wonderful thing to do.

"Every Friday night I get together with a large group of friends, and we spend several hours chanting. Of all the things you could do on a Friday night, if I were to say I was going to spend it singing prayers and mantras, you might think there were more exciting things to do than that. Yet Friday night is the highlight of my week. "

He brings such concentration and enthusiasm to his chanting, that you can see how he gets so much out of it!

Although we'd been expecting Mark to bring his whole kirtan band, only one other member was able to come this time, but they left with promises of returning with more.

Many thanks to Mark on behalf of us all - looking forward to next time.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Exuberant Kirtan

Kirtan comes in many shapes and sizes, from the slow and meditative, through to the rip-roaring, drum-pounding, dance-til-you drop. There's a kirtan for every occasion! And it doesn't in the least matter how you chant - the effect is always the same - an unburdening of the heart and mind and a lasting upsurge of bouyancy. The ancient texts concerning kirtan state that there are no hard and fast rules for chanting - chant wherever, whenever and however you like. But chant!

As we've been following Gaura vani in recent months, on his mantralogy tour, here's a sample of the more exuberant style of kirtan, recorded in the UK in August. Click here.

Above: Traditional kirtan in India.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Kirtan in the Boston Globe

I just saw an article today about Gaura Vani from the Boston Globe. I love this quote from it:

"Kirtan is just the process of using chant and music to clean the heart," he said from his home outside the nation's capital. "It's like an ancient can of Scrubbing Bubbles to clean our hearts and help figure out who we are beyond the body."

We start our kirtan season again in Oxford on Sunday. What a great opportunity to let the Scrubbing Bubbles of chanting to set us off into new fresh autumnal adventures. Hope to see you there, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed...

All information you need about the next kirtan is in the post below.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

September Kirtan

Welcome to a new season of Kirtan in Oxford! To start with panache, we'll be hosting a newly-formed kirtan band from London, headed up by Mark Anderson. He and his band Sacred Vibes have been chanting at the Kirtan-yoga sessions in West Hampstead, a new kirtan venue which has it's website here. Mark and his team have many years chanting experience between them, and bring a youthful energy and zest to their kirtans.

There's no doubt that kirtan is 'catching on', as more people experience it's uplifting, de-stressing, joyful qualities. So, if you haven't tried it yet, I hope you'll be able to join us this Sunday, September 20th. at the Friends Meeting House, 43, St. Giles, at 4.00 p.m. We look forward to seeing you and chanting with you!