What is kirtan?
Ancient sonic medicine
Kirtan is continuous praise of what we naturally revere. It’s a coming together to sing & connect on a soul level. It’s an outpouring of the heart which can connect us to our innate peace, joy & bliss.
A heart & sound based yogic practice
Kirtan often combines potent Sanskrit vibrational sounds called mantra with melody & rhythm to help bypass the mind, access a deep & nourishing stillness, & bring us into a relaxed, balanced & vibrant state of being.
Universal language of the heart
'All religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. The sun’s light looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall, and a lot different on this other one, but it’s still one light' - Rumi.
Kirtan can be practised by everyone, regardless of age or experience. No musical experience is required, just a heart willing to sing, share and receive.
Kirtan embraces all peoples, religions, castes & creeds. It is only a religious practice if you wish it to be, on your terms. Kirtan is the universal language of the heart.
‘Sometimes I can’t believe how joyful, blissful and even ecstatic I can feel during and after kirtan. Feelings, I’ve come to realise, which are symptomatic of our natural state of being free from suffering' - Gyan.
'Kirtan is the calling, the crying, the reaching across infinite space - digging into the heart’s deepest well to touch and be touched by the divine presence' - Jai Uttal.
'Let this be the criterion always: anything that makes you festive, anything that gives you celebration, anything that makes you dance and sing to such an extent that you disappear in your dancing, in your singing, in your celebration... is the only true religion I know of' - Osho.
Kirtan with Geeti & Gyan
We love sharing kirtan to open the heart. For us, kirtan is a great opportunity to connect to and bring together community - to sing and uplift each other, and send out prayers of goodwill to humanity and the Earth.
Our East meets West kirtan style fuses the traditional with the contemporary, and features a variety of instruments including harmonium, guitar, Indian and western drums, manjira, flute, piano and sitar.
Our kirtans are multicultural, reflecting our inclusivity of all cultures and religions. Many are in Sanskrit (the language of yoga and mantra), some are in English, others in Tibetan, Sufi and other languages. Within Sanskrit, they embrace all the deities - many of them may be sung to in a single evening of kirtan! The intention here is to tap into the many divine qualities of our being and consciousness.
Our kirtan is often call and response, which is a combination of listening to and singing back that which you've just heard. We find this makes the kirtan a true spontaneous collaboration between facilitators and participants, and can potentially take everyone on an enthralling journey from slow, tender beginnings, to rhythmic dynamism, to ecstatic peaks and devotional yearning, dissolving into silence.
Often at some point during a call and response kirtan, everyone sings together. This can really expand the group harmony. We often then encourage participants to sing 'any part you like' - so everyone can find their own creative expression and place in the choir of voices.
We aim to make the kirtans as simple and accessible as possible, so everyone can join in as they wish. We warmly welcome those new to kirtan to give it a go and see if it resonates.
We hold space for everyone to feel, let go, release and express whatever they need to during kirtan. We give full permission for people to embrace their emotions and feelings in a safe and inclusive environment, which encourages participants to be their authentic selves.
A note about singing
We understand that singing may bring up all manner of uncomfortable feelings such as self-criticism & self-doubt... we hold space for this too. As Miten says in his song, 'Bring the song you fear to sing, all is welcome here.' And we are here also to support you to have a positive, transformative experience of kirtan!
The beauty & liberating thing about kirtan is that ultimately it really doesn't matter how our voices sound, if we sing out of tune or make mistakes. It is an offering from your heart to the divine, or whatever you hold sacred.
Opening our hearts as best we can, being our authentic selves and singing from this place, is the aim - this is what really matters.
We intend to keep this heart-based approach to kirtan alive both when leading & supporting kirtan. Kirtan has captured our hearts because it asks of us each time to be real, to be ourselves... that's all & that's everything!
'I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think' - Rumi.
As someone who is new to kirtan I felt honored to experience this dance of devotion in an atmosphere of so much connection, celebration and freedom. Many thanks.