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top 5 words used in kirtan singing

top 5 words used in kirtan singing

Published: 05-09-2023 - Last Edited: 10-09-2023

top 5 words used in kirtan singing

The evocative world of Kirtan singing transcends mere music. It’s an ethereal journey that dates back centuries, rooted deep within India’s rich tapestry of traditions.

Much more than a form of vocal expression, Kirtan is a heart-to-heart connection with the universe, offering profound spiritual experiences to those who lose themselves in its rhythm.

A Reverberation of Ancient Melodies

Originating in the 12th century, the essence of Kirtan is beautifully simple: a call and response, where a lead vocalist chants a line and the audience echoes it back. This soulful practice, once the preserve of Indian spiritual gatherings, has found its resonance across the world, now gracing yoga studios and spiritual centers in the West.

Decoding the Harmonious Lexicon

For the uninitiated, the mellifluous chants of Kirtan, often laced with Sanskrit or Hindi phrases, might seem enigmatic. Here, I’ve curated a guide to some key phrases and their meanings, equipping you with the knowledge to immerse deeper into Kirtan or even create your own.

  • Jai: Often heard in Kirtan sessions, ‘Jai’ is a multifaceted term. While it primarily signifies ‘praise’, it can also be interpreted as ‘victory’. Variations like ‘Jay’ or ‘Jaya’ are common, with ‘Jai Ganesh’ translating to ‘Praise Lord Ganesha’.
  • Namah: An expression of reverence, ‘Namah’ denotes submission or offering of prayers. Whether you say ‘Namah Shivaya’ or ‘Shivaya Namah’, the sentiment remains unchanged. However, it’s essential to emphasize each syllable, pronouncing it as Na-Ma-Ha, instead of the English ‘Nam’.
  • Shri: An honorific similar to ‘Sir’, ‘Shri’ is often appended before names of deities, such as ‘Shri Krishna’. While it’s sometimes written as ‘Shree’, variations in pronunciation may also include ‘Sheere’, reminiscent of the app ‘Siri’.
  • Boolo: An invigorating term, ‘Boolo’ urges participants to voice their chants. Picture a Kirtan wala (male leader) or wali (female leader) singing ‘Boolo Jai Ram’, imploring everyone to echo ‘Jai Ram’. The word itself, pronounced as ‘Boo-lo’, is bound to bring a smile to your face.
  • Maata: Representing the epitome of nurturing, ‘Maata’ means ‘mother’. In Kirtans, it’s used to revere Mother Goddesses, like ‘Maata Saraswati’. While ‘Maa’ is the simpler variant, pronouncing ‘Maata’ involves a unique tongue position, pushing it back towards the upper teeth.

Armed with this glossary, you’re ready to embark on a Kirtan journey of your own. Picture yourself chanting: “Jai Maata Namah, Shri Maata Namah”, intensifying your spirit with a resounding “Boolo” towards the crescendo.

A Never-Ending Symphony

To truly grasp the magic of Kirtan, and delve deeper into Sanskrit or the intricacies of this ancient art, consider exploring further resources. My website, Kamini Music, offers an array of insights and learning opportunities. Let the spiritual harmonies of Kirtan envelop your soul, and may your voice be a beacon of joy, peace, and unity.


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