Blessed Be The Name

I went to a kirtan last night led by HuDost and Wynne Paris. You may not know these people, but that doesn’t matter. If kirtan is done right, the silence that follows the chanting of the names of God induces a mighty silence. This followed me home and slept in the bed with me last night. I woke to find it still there.

The space at Muse For Life is perfect for such an evening of devotional offerings. A picture of Neem Karoli Baba was on the floor illuminated by tea lights. People sat on the floor or in chairs and took a journey back to the heart.

Kirtan, or call and response, involves the singer or singers chanting. Then the audience repeats what they have said, following along as best they can. There are soft and gentle moments, often building to a crescendo that rocks the house. These kirtan wallahs are a hardworking bunch that travel light. They play everything from harmoniums to tablas to guitars. Whatever works.

I had a cup of tea called Truth, (Dragon’s Teeth) that lubricated my voice between sets. The weather was quite stormy and the parking lot small and jammed. Occasionally, Stan Holt, the head of Swaha Productions, would have to make an announcement about someone needing to move a car.

Wynne told stories about some of his experiences, one that involved getting to know Arlo Guthrie. The husband and wife team that make up HuDost had their baby boy with them and I think their dog was there as well. Rob took pictures and I’ll share later.

I love the silence so I love this community of kirtan here in Atlanta. The social aspect of most gatherings is absent here. You don’t have to do anything but find your inner chanter and let it be heard. And the silence….it is not only priceless but the presence of God gathered in all of his many disguises.

Rob and I drove home quickly, the storm having moved on. I sat at the kitchen table with a piece of bread spread with peanut butter and a cup of hot cocoa. Blessed be the name.

Vicki Woodyard

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