When mantras meet music, we get Kirtan!
Kirtan is a Sanskrit word that means reciting a story or prayer, or mantra and is considered a form of devotion to a specific deity of ancient Vedic times. In modern times, a kirtana, the musical experience of the call and response, is practiced globally by many, not only for devotion but in an attempt to build a strong spiritual connection in an effort to meditate and heal. Very similar to the ancient practice of yoga, chanting mantras help to ground, focus and release energetic blockages which keep us from living blissfully. Mantras, similar to affirmations, are said to carry spiritual powers when recited over several times. Not unlike Gospel choirs, kirtanas are meant to be uplifting and meditative all the while practicing a devotion to a higher power.
Devotional contemporary singers in the Sikh traditions have popularized this ancient practice by adding to the repetitive mantras, catchy musical compositions using string and percussion instruments, typical of the regions in India. The texts include not only devotional texts but some broader spiritual or mythological philosophies. Chanting the mantra with a tune attached helps not only to facilitate the practice but helps with memorizing the sometimes difficult-to-pronounce words.
Snatam Kaur, is an American born singer-songwriter who chose to follow the Sikh traditions and as such, has dedicated her sound to devotional music. With her angelic and soothing voice, she chants ancient Sanskrit put to music, while we receive the many gifts of healing, grounding, unblocking, euphoria, peace, bliss and so much more. Whether you tune in to some Kirtan as background music to a lazy afternoon or whether you do so to deeply tune in, Snatam Kaur is my favourite.
A close second is the beautiful and soul-full sound of the duo that makes up Mirabai Ceiba. Angelika was born in America of Mexican and German heritage while her husband Markus heralds from Germany. The name Mirabai Ceiba expresses both inspirations from Native Latin America and India. Mirabai was the name of a 16th century Hindu poet who wrote mainly devotions to the god Krishna. The Latin American word of Ceiba is the name of a tree that is never cut and left to grow as tall as the sky. These two words together represent the devotion of different aspects of God, and their music like the tree has deep roots in Mother Earth and branches that reach up to Father Sky.
I encourage you to listen and sing along to the inspiring and uplifting sounds from kirtan musicians. Not only will they balance and energize your throat chakra, but you will be so moved, you will be tapping your toes before too long!
If you have never experienced a kirtana, try these and then check out the YouTube channels below for much more: Earth Prayer, Guru Ram Das, Shine Your Light medley, A Thousand Suns (Om Sat Wahe Guru) You will surely have your favourites after you experience the heavenly and healing sounds that come from a kirtana. Click on the names below to go directly to their channel.
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I will continue to feature a new list of affirmations and mantras each newsletter, so stay tuned for some interesting tips and tricks to keep positive thoughts.