Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Kirtan Mass

A few months ago St Michael and All Angels, Albuquerque, launched a Kirtan Mass, held the first Wednesday of each month at 7 PM.

My first time was tonight.

I left work as hammered as usual and decided I needed church. Since the church is between work and home, this was easy to do. I drove to the church parking lot where I took a thirty-minute nap, then entered the church. The rector and his wife were in the vesting sacristy eating salad so I chatted with them a while, then sat down in the nave. That way I could enjoy the rehearsal.

The lights were dimmed and there were lots of candles and flowers here and there. The altar party was seated on zafu in an open circle. Brian played the harmonium and they had found a highly skilled tabla player. There was also a flute, guitar, and some small percussion.

Kirtan is a highly devotional mode of Hindu worship in which musical phrases are sung by a leader and repeated by the worshipers. Lots of repetition as one can get lost in a devotional frenzy. We were not dancing though my buttocks were moving a lot on the chair. I really cannot sit still with strongly rhythmic music.

Our singing began and ended in Latin with forays into Sanskrit and English. Readings were from two Gospels, from Milton, and from Rumi. There was a long period of silent prayer. Near the end we shared the Body and Blood of Christ. At the very end we passed the peace.

I feel much better.

It is evocative of the Contemplative Mass at St Cuthbert's, Oakland, only with lots (and I do mean LOTS) of singing.

If you are in town and so inclined, check it out. It was very well attended for a midweek service (in a sacramental church).

Then I came home, put out the garbage and recycling, and had leftovers enhanced with spices and heavy cream.

Ragani writes at
Although the kirtan involves music, the underlying art of kirtan chanting is not actually about musical ability or training-it is about the heart. Everyone can participate, regardless of age or cultural background. The purpose of this music is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts. Typically, the songs can last for 20-30 minutes each with a few moments of silence in between each song so you can soak it all up. The longer songs allow for deeper experience of the effects, and with the simple, repetitive lyrics (it's a chant, after all!) we really don't have to think much about the words.
KIRTAN FROM GANGA DARSHAN, INDIA (the classic stuff from 1990):


GANESH BHAJAN,KIRTAN -Vinayaka vinayaka by Leepikaa (y'all sing along!):

Om Namah Shivaya with Krishna Das (one of my all-time faves):

Rock out my fellow bhaktis!
--the BB

1 comment:

winonaf said...

Thanks, BB. Too bad there's no true kirtan wallah in Albuquerque. Check out the chanting at the Unity Church on Candelaria. They are just beginning to gather energy and not strictly kirtan, but it's a good outlet.
Thanks again,