|Published online: January 9, 2014||$US5.00|
The ancient Hindu spiritual-musical practice of kirtan, a type of group devotional chant, has been a minor feature of American “New Age” movements since the 1960s. Recently, a growing number of individuals not typically associated with the counterculture movement have been attracted to kirtan as a form of spiritual and musical expression. Kirtan events are held regularly across the country in private homes, yoga studios, churches, theatres, and convention centers. In this paper I argue that, rather than representing a set of unified religious beliefs or an institutionalized hierarchy, contemporary American kirtan provides practitioners the space to worship, develop their own spirituality, and experience individual conceptions of the divine in a communal, ecstatic setting. While kirtan practice has been enabled by pluralistic Hindu doctrines, its contemporary American incarnation facilitates an even wider diversity of spiritual practice. Understanding how kirtan performance simultaneously creates community and enables personalized spirituality further illuminates part of the fastest expanding “spiritual but not religious” denomination in the US.
|Keywords:||Postmodern Orientations to Religion, Globalized Spiritual Practices, Music and Ecstatic Experience, Multi-religious Community|
The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, March 2014, pp.13-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 9, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 312.318KB)).
Ph.D. Student, Department of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA