WHAT: Kirtan with Sangha Shabda, part of musical series Open to the One, presented Wednesdays in March by the Altamont Theatre and AskLizze.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 18, 7-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Altamont Theatre, 18 Church St.
WHY: Xpress corresponded with AskLizze founder Liz Cox, and Sangha Shabda vocalists Jojo Silverman and Aditi Sethi-Brown:
Mountain Xpress: How do you hope these events will impact the attendee’s experience of oneness?
Cox: All of these events are participatory. The attendees are part of the event, not separate from it. [We] are actively co-creating the space. [And] there is nothing we cannot co-create, change, put in motion together from that space.
The important thing to remember is that with more light comes more responsibility. With greater awareness comes greater cause for actions that benefit the whole, and even more so in a group dynamic.
How did you first begin leading kirtan? What does this experience mean to you, and how do you hope the musical and lyrical content impact listeners?
Sethi-Brown: Kirtan is call-and-response chanting of ancient healing mantras (words or sounds repeated to aid concentration in meditation). Kirtan was and is an integral part of the Hindu and Sikh spiritual traditions in which I was raised. I began offering it to the community as a child under the guidance of my parents and grandparents.
When we chant mantras from various Eastern religions, [our] minds [are] still and focused and [we are] more fully present. The call-and-response nature of kirtan invites all to participate in an experience of connectedness, unity and oneness. These mystical sound patterns have been used for thousands of years to focus the mind, open the heart and expand consciousness.
Silverman: Kirtan is a group practice and not a performance. When we chant these ancient, sacred syllables, [we] unlock deep levels of inner knowing dormant in our minds. The musical nature of the practice harmonizes the two hemispheres of our brain. When this practice is done in a group, our bodies actually vibrate in unison, our breathing syncs up, and our minds can become unified and focused. I have found no stronger practice for experiencing oneness.