“Kirtan is a form of devotional chanting with roots going back over 500 years to India. It is a form of Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion) and has the power to open the heart. The singing is accompanied by musical instruments and rhythmic drumming and the audience is encouraged to participate by chanting, clapping and dancing. You will not be able to resist the urge to join in! In its heartfelt expression kirtan can induce profound states of meditation, bliss and ecstasy.” (from gauravani.com)
Paramahansa Yogananda brought India’s art of devotional chanting to the West, introducing many westerners to the experience of chanting together in devotion to God. Kirtan combines sacred mantra, or spiritual words with vibrant, joyous music that lifts the soul and energizes the body.
Kirtan is quickly gaining popularity in the west thanks in part to the Bhakti and Yoga movements, as well as Kirtan music festivals such as Bhakti Fest, Shakti Fest, Sat Nam Fest and other yoga and spiritual gatherings. Many yoga studios offer Kirtan and sometimes satsangs just gather wherever they can find a place to share the joy of singing and meditating together.
If you don’t have local festivals, yoga studios or a satsang you can find Kirtan podcasts, CD’s, and music downloads online. Some of my favorite artists performing this wonderful music include Dave Stringer, Krishna Das, Ragani, Deva Premal, Larissa Stowe & the Shakti Tribe, Jai Uttal, David Newman and Snatam Kaur. You can buy their music on iTunes or Amazon. If you haven’t heard Kirtan, a fantastic place to try it out and get your bliss on is The New World Kirtan podcast where Kitzie Stern offers a free weekly podcast filled with chants from popular Kirtan artists as well as upcoming and new talents.