Friday, 2 March 2018

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Toronto, Ontario

The Eve Before the Gaura Morn

Globally, members of the bhakti yoga tradition are warming up for the following day’s full moon, when the birthday of a great personality will be honoured.  His name is Sri Chaitanya and He has popularized the kirtan movement which entails drumming, dancing and, most of all, chanting.  It also may include walking because the practice of kirtan is not static but ecstatic.

The mrdunga drums of the Bengals—east and west—were custom-made of earth or terra cotta.  Being that they are light-weight, one can move with them, even dance with them strapped about the torso.  Jajas, often referred to as whompers, are cap-shaped, brass-based cymbals that accompany the mrdunga.  There were no harmoniums at the time of kirtan’s heyday.  The harmonium was born in Germany in the 1800s, two hundred years after Chaitanya’s initiation of sharing kirtan.  Harmoniums would also be too awkward and heavy to carry around during a kirtan’s dance/chant sessions.

After a good day of careful travel planning, but no walking—unfortunately—and spending time with journalist Kevin Connors of the Toronto Sun newspaper, I took a glance, as I had the chance, to see from above, via the balcony, the Wednesday crew chanting below.  They did not dance and a harmonium was used, but they did chant and that is the most important component of kirtan.

Let us refer to the term sankirtan which means group participation in chanting.  It is awesome.

May the Source be with you!

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