FTV News, Cambridge, By Geetha Patil: A wonderful experience of collective singing of Bhajans was arranged by the Cambridge Community Kirtan on the warm Wednesday evening of Jun 21, 2017 at the Cambridge Swedenborg Chapel, Cambridge, MA. Excited devotees of Cambridge and surrounding areas gathered to sing Bhajans and mantras with well known devotional singers, Mr. Scott Hari Whitmore, Rachel, and Tom Lena.
Tamal (Tom) Len welcomed warmly all the devotees and thanked them for attending the event with family and friends. Scott Hari Whitmore is taking the lead on organizing Kirtan evenings with Jennifer Canfield from the Call and Response foundation. International Yoga Day was celebrated by the devotees with Bhakti Yoga Bliss. Like Yoga, Collective chanting, is gaining interest in the United States. Kirtan format of chanting is a type of yoga in itself and has many of the mind-calming benefits of yoga. Kirtan has varying effects for different people, offers the possibility for the stillness of mind, without the struggle or striving to concentrate. Kirtan practice helps to focus the mind. By simply repeating mantras or words, you can release your mind from its daily chatter. For some, the practice has a powerful heart-opening effect as well.
At Cambridge Community Kirtan devotees chant Mantras and sing Bhajans together in chorus and create awesome positive vibes in the atmosphere around them and make the hearts experience eternal bliss. The Sanskrit alphabets used in the traditional Kirtans have strong energetic and vibrational component. It is observed that when chanted these Sanskrit words create a powerful vibration in the body, affecting a person’s mind and spirit. Without knowledge of Sanskrit one can experience the yogic benefits of Kirtan. In Kirtan, the singing is often accompanied by classical Indian harmonium, Tablas and rhythm instruments like bells and finger cymbals and everyone is encouraged to join in singing. The Kirtan’s lead singer can deepen the experience by modifying the length and speed of the chanting to produce rhythmic vibrations.
The initial impact of Kirtan may begin as “Kan-rasa” (pleasure of the ears). Devotees were charmed by the sweet notes and the rhythms of the Tabla and feel “Man-rasa” (pleasure of the mind). It is believed that whoever chants or listens to Kirtan with a devoted mind, their dark thoughts vanish and their hope gets strengthened. Kirtan brings great joy to humanity. Every devotee enjoyed joyful evening with Kirtan – a way to commune with God by chanting the names of the Divine, specifically Hindu gods and goddesses, such as Ram, Kali, Rama, Shiva, Durga, Krishna, and Lakshmi. After the Kirtan, all devotees were served with light snacks, apple cider and masala tea.
One of the participants said, “Kirtan – a collective chanting is a spiritual practice. Hindu Mantras carry intrinsic healing qualities. I cannot explain; it is something that can only be experienced. It really gives me a sense of belonging with myself along with the world. ”