The Practice of Discovering Inner (and Outer) Beauty
As I settle myself down on the floor and take a few deep breaths, the harmonium starts to play, and the chanting begins. Gradually the hard places around my heart soften, and soon I feel a sense of homecoming. Then, all at once, my heart opens like a lotus blossom unfolding at dawn.
I am at a kirtan.
When I first experienced this uniquely Eastern art form, the love I have for Indian culture and clothing took a new turn toward the spiritual heart of India and the practice of devotional chanting. At that point my company, Premadaya Imports From India, began expanding its line of products to include attire and accessories that can be worn at kirtans, such as the Hare Rama Scarf featured this month.
What Is Kirtan?
A kirtan concert is based on ancient Indian chants, usually sung in Sanskrit. The lead chanter sings a mantra, and the audience responds. Such chanting has the ability to calm the mind and create a strong sense of connection and community among those attending the kirtan.
In my experience, several hours of chanting (sung with prayerful intent) clears out your energy, opens the heart chakra, and raises your vibration. Put another way, it leaves you in a very blissful state of being.
I first attended a day-long kirtan in Saratoga Springs, New York, many years ago. After eight hours of chanting, it felt as if a light had gone on inside of me—and stayed with me for weeks after. That day sparked in me a passion and commitment to devotional chanting and kirtan that has only grown deeper through the years. I have been fortunate to attend kirtans with Krishna Das, Snatam Kaur, Deva Premal, and Jai Uttal at peaceful and inspiring venues such as Martha’s Vineyard and Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.
Krishna Das in particular has touched me with his commitment to his beloved teacher and with his deep devotion to chant. Listening to the “Hanuman Chalisa” still brings me to tears (you can hear it performed in the video below). After reading Krishna Das’s books, seeing the movie about his life (One Track Heart), and listening to his recordings, I finally had the opportunity to meet him and participate in several of his kirtans. His stage presence is warm and humble; and the purity of the devotion emanating from him completely filled my heart and spirit. Following Krishna Das’s journey became a pathway to Bhakti Yoga that led me to my guru as well: Neem Karoli Baba.
Living Kirtan Day to Day
Kirtan is something that you can incorporate into your daily routine as a simple and enjoyable soul-soothing discipline. For example, my passion for chant has carried over in my massage practice, where I play chant to create a relaxing environment that helps my clients open to a calm, peaceful state to receive the full benefits of the massage. Listening to chants by Deva Premal or to the sublime “Suni-ai” by Snatam Kaur enables both my client and myself to move into a healing space for mind, body, and spirit.
This same passion also informs my product lines at Premadaya Imports as I seek out clothing that can be worn to a kirtan as well as comfortably every day, indoors or out and in any season.
This month Premadaya is featuring the Hare Rama Scarf. Prayer scarves such as this, emblazoned with spiritual symbols and sacred images, are often worn at kirtans. Hand-made in India, these scarves are woven with the OM symbol (ॐ) or with images of Krishna, Buddha, and other deities (Hare Rama means “Praise God”).
Our scarves come in a variety of striking colors—white, olive, purple, pink, and orange—to brighten up your look on any day and bring you back to your heart space. Wearing this scarf will be a constant remembrance of the divine that surrounds us and an outward sign of an inner commitment to keep an open heart toward yourself and all beings.
The stylish Hare Rama Scarf is also a sign of Premadaya’s commitment to you, our customers—to bring you beautiful clothing that enlivens your day, uplifts your spirit, enhances your femininity, and brings you joy. After all, at Premadaya, we want you to Love What You Wear.
~ Mary Kuntz
P.S.: You can read more about kirtan and devotional
chanting at the New World Kirtan website.