During this time when we are asked to limit exposure to our fellow humans and follow all the health procedures we can, it’s irresponsible of us to continue to post public gatherings, so we have cancelled them all until the coronavirus is under better control. On our website, we do have all the recurring Kirtans saved as drafts, so when the fog lifts, we can be back quickly.
This did get me thinking about our community and what we can do during the time when we all may possibly have some unexpected free time on our hands, at home. The coronavirus takes our social nature as humans and turns it against us as a form of transmitting itself, but a true warrior sees his opponents strength and turns it into a weakness. So, what can we do? Our social nature is still our strength, but it has to be in a less physical form right now. We will take away coronas strength by limiting physical contact and transmission, but that does not mean our contact itself has to be limited. It just has to be in a different form. I am going to put some ideas below, and you are welcome to put yours in the comments. We can emerge from this stronger than before.
The most important central idea I believe is not to waste time on actions and thoughts that do not contribute to betterment, and to the resiliency of our community for the future when we no longer have to avoid public gatherings.
We need a way or ways to navigate through this time and come out stronger on the other end, whenever that is.
So, here are some ideas which you can feel free to add to. Perhaps we will try all of these ideas at once and see what sticks:
1) When its time again for public gatherings, we do want the places where Kirtan is held to still be there, so donate and support if you are able. Many of the venues themselves are nonprofit, and you will save on taxes later while you keep their lights on. For Artists, patreon is a good platform that they should sign up for, and people can make small donations to multiple artists from there. Yoga studios and other venues, buy gift cards so they can keep the lights on. It’s not perfect, but It’s something.
2) Instead of posting gatherings, we will post mantras for people to do at home, with links that explain what the mantras are and what they do.
3) Any artist that sends us a video of a mantra they wish to share, we will post, so that people can enjoy them in their pajamas, or..... whatever their jam is.
Artists with established pages can elect to share videos with us that we can then post on our page while they still retain ownership over their videos. Facebook calls this cross posting. We will be happy to do that.
4) A free online workshop for artists and venues to give training and provide some resources for how to make the best use of the online tools we have would be a good idea.
5) Joining your local time bank is a fantastic idea, because we can trade time with each other instead of money and it’s free. Online teachings and tutoring count as an exchange, and fits perfectly with having a bit of free time.
6) Can a Kirtan or workshop be done exclusively online as a livestream? Facebook, Youtube and other platforms have invested millions for us to have these tools. Maybe we can make use of them now.
7) We need a way for people to interact and support each other directly. A true open source people’s platform. While we are at it, maybe a messaging and payment platform for our community that is open source and not owned by a mega corporation that is mining our user data. Everything starts with a dream.
I will be looking at the comments and refining this list as I see new good ideas. Remember that in Japanese, the characters for “danger” and “opportunity” are nearly identical.
Tampa Kirtan was created with the intention of providing a space to connect and network for Kirtan lovers and performers in the Tampa Bay area, and over time has evolved to try to keep track of all Kirtans in the greater Tampa Bay area including a bit of Sarasota and Orlando as well. There are so many great Kirtans to attend and Kirtan artists to see, we do our best to be a central hub that lists all of them.
Kirtan is a form of devotional chanting whose roots go back over 500 years to India. It is a form of Bhakti Yoga (yoga of devotion) and has the power to open the heart and connect us to the divine. The call and response singing is accompanied by musical instruments and percussion. The audience is encouraged to participate by chanting, clapping and dancing. Kirtan is not a performance as we know it, it is a shared musical and spiritual experience which draws people together in joy and unity. In its heartfelt expression kirtan can induce profound states of meditation and bliss.
As Kirtan came to the United States, the musical aspect changed to not only focus on Indian traditions of music, but to incorporate various American and World traditions. Each Kirtan singer and group has their own wonderful blend of influences, and modes of expressing bliss.
Chanting is not unique to just India however, and spans almost all cultures. We hope by finding and participating in a Kirtan you can be assisted in your own spiritual journey and that it leads you to a higher place. Jai Ma!