For some people, sacred chanting is a part of everyday life. Kirtan is the traditional Sikh form of devotional singing and is practised daily in gurdwaras – Sikh temples – all around the world.
The uplifting mantras of Kirtan, supported by the raw, beautiful tones of the harmonium, tablas and other instruments, create an inspiring musical form that is becoming popular worldwide.
Is there a God? Is God within? Is music the language of the divine? With Kirtan some of these questions may be answered without a conversation or reading a book.
Whilst words, prayers, yoga and meditation may bring glimpses of the divine, it is often music that can truly transport us to a place that we may never have been but which feels very familiar a place where we feel godliness.
Kirtan is the chanting of Sanskrit mantras accompanied by music. All are welcome, faith or no faith, and an evenings Kirtan will usually involve chanting, meeting people and, if you are lucky, sharing a lovely, vegetarian meal.
Kirtan begins with the chant being called by one person and then everyone else follows. The chants are short and easy to sing they are for everyone, not just the musically inclined.
Music is definitely the language of the heart. If your heart is sad or empty, or if you are confused about how you feel, chanting with others takes you out of the way of your own mind and allows you to open up. This can be a safe journey of discovery where nothing needs to be said or explained but things can become clear on their own.
Kirtan in the city may take you on such a healing path, but more than anything is simply relaxing. You can guarantee that once you have found your way through traffic, lights, noise and constant electrical buzz there will be nothing more relaxing than sitting down and being drawn into the healing world of a comfortable cushion and sacred sound.
Singing together makes connecting with people easy. By the time you get to share a cup of tea and have a conversation, you have already shared a beautiful experience and will find that your conversation flows much more naturally than normal, and you find it not only easier to speak, but to listen as well.
Kirtan is the music of devotion but doesnt require a spiritual commitment to be a balm, a tonic, and a haven from our fast, modern lives. Slot it in to your weekly timetable and you will quickly notice your enjoyment of life improve. You may even discover a state of bliss!
Of course, not everyone has a hall offering Kirtan just down the road from their place. Check out the internet for opportunities to purchase Kirtan CDs, and you can bring the music of the temple right into your own lounge room.