Hey yogi babes, welcome to the wonderful world of Kirtan. You may have no sweet clue what Kirtan is or what it even means, and that’s why I’m here to help!
What is Kirtan?
Essentially, Kirtan is devotional chanting.
With roots dating back over 500 years to India, this form of Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion) has the magical ability to open your heart. Musical instruments, vocals and rhythmic drumming all encourage the audience to chant, clap and dance along. This heartfelt and joyous expression can induce profound states of meditation, bliss and ecstasy.
You will notice that through all these layers of the music, singing and rhythm that there is a beautiful vibration that permeates throughout. That vibration is Kirtan itself, which is described as the beating of the heart and soul. It’s a mysterious and wonderful connection that draws everyone in the room to one another.
A Kirtan is just like a concert, but it’s an even better experience. Why?
Because all the voices become one.
Every person in the room is on a different path, has a story, has different beliefs, etc; we are all unique and different, and that unifies into one beautiful voice and focus. It reminds you that at our core, as human beings, that we can remove the hard boundaries and what separates us and chant together as one voice.
What happens at a Kirtan?
I’ve only been to one Kirtan in my life, and it was with the amazing Krishna Das at a local church. I was lucky enough to attend his concert when he was doing an Atlantic Canadian tour. I had no idea what to expect. I did not know any devotional chants and was so nervous to look “weird” or “silly” – which are feelings you will experience at the start of a Kirtan if you’ve never been before.
At this Kirtan, they handed you a lyric sheet to his set, making it easier to chant along. This really eased my nerves and eased me out of mycomfort zone much faster.
So once the Kirtan begins, it is essentially just singing along to the devotional chants. These chants are very similar to the mantras you repeat in Japa meditation. As time progresses, you enter a meditative and blissful state. Some people get up and dance along to the music as they chant, others clap, or some people just close their eyes and chant.
It is a very personal experience, but you still feel connected as you chant and sing with everyone in the room.
How do you feel after a Kirtan?
Amazing, wonderful, beautiful, joyous.
You feel so light and like your heart has exploded from the love and energy from everyone who was chanting along with you. If you’ve ever experienced a “yoga high” from after a class or your practice, you get one after a Kirtan.
Except it’s 100% better!
So yogi babes, that is your short and sweet guide to everything Kirtan! There are lots of groups that host them, so don’t be shy to join them for an ohmazing experience!
Until next time,