Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

At Parliament Hill

Ottawa, Ontario

Every year near the war memorial, a short jaunt from Parliament Hill, devotees of Krishna set up a stage with awning and sound equipment on this day. It’s Canada Day, the birth anniversary of a nation and at 6 am, the modest stage is assembled to contribute to the celebration.

By the time our small Toronto delegation of five had arrived, the Queen had already completed royal renderings but the kirtan (chanting) was in full swing. We merged with the vibrant chanters. Within minutes I was led to the microphone. My dear friend Mahajan hit the keyboard and went for seventies funk playing to the Maha-Mantra.

The chanting drew in the public. One Japanese young woman jumped into the enthusiastic dance circle. Her companions insisted on staying outside the loop. They periodically tried to pull her away from her ecstatic dance. She fought back fiercely but lovingly resisting the oncoming advances of her friends. This was so entertaining to watch.

I had sensed that the kirtan was mellow previously and that the chanters were up for a change of rasa (mood). They were so happy when we shifted gears. And the dancers? Well, our Canadian flag pole became the limbo stick for those who wanted to go as low as they could go. A competition sprang out of this, and all the while the chanting sound was rising from the crowd.

Those that didn’t make a sound stood sedate and others engaged, jaws-dropped, seeing the fun approach to spiritual expression. It was nothing dull or drab.

I began to think that Chaitanya, the father of kirtan for the age, was the master-mind behind making spirituality so very attractive. What a blessing it is to be a part of this experience!

6 KM

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