Sunday, 23 May 2010

What is Kirtan

What is Kirtan?

Kirtan is an experience like no other. It combines sacred mantra, or spiritual words with vibrant, joyous music that lifts the soul and energizes the body. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. One leader sings the mantra, accompanied by a few instruments. After each line, the group – however large or small, respond with the same line. This call and response continues as the kirtan slowly unfolds.

Though the kirtan tradition originated in ancient India, it is no less relevant to our modern times. With the increasing demands of the average working life, kirtan is perhaps even more beneficial than ever.

In kirtan, there are no rules – you can sit or stand, or better yet, dance! You can clap or play instruments, and sing to your heart’s content. The only thing necessary is an open heart, open mind, and open ears.

(In our Oxford kirtans we generally sit, though there is space to dance if you are so moved!)

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Merry Month of May

We have two scholars lined up to lead us in kirtan this month: Dr Kenneth Valpey who received his DPhil in Oxford a few years back, has returned this term to engage in a research project into the Sanskrit text, the Bhagavata-Purana.

Kenneth has a musical bent, which led him to take part in the Gauranga Bhajana band in the 1990s, performing kirtan in various venues across Europe, including in Moscow to an audience of 35,000. He was also a member of the St Cross college choir, while a student here in Oxford. He led kirtan for us in 2007 and we're very happy to welcome him back for another session.

Gopal needs no introduction to our regular chanters. He's one of our stalwart and popular kirtaniyas and is currently working on his DPhil in Hindu Studies, here in Oxford, working out the intricacies of karma, destiny and time in the Srimad Bhagavatam. We hope none of the forementioned will prevent him from turning up on Sunday, at 4.00 p.m at the Friends Meeting House, 43, St. Giles, to lead us in deep and joyful kirtan.