Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Kirtan in North America

  • David T. Schmit
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_823-1



Kirtan is a form of sacred communal chanting set to music. The term first appears in the Vedas, indicating that forms of the practice are as old as Hinduism. In translation, kirtan connotes recitation, storytelling, or religious performance. In traditional Hindu settings, it is often practiced as a call and response chanting style with a singer leading and an assembly providing the response. As a form of sacred music, kirtan is linked to bhajans, which are songs and hymns with multiple verses. Japa, a religious practice that involves contemplatively repeating a mantra or an invocation of a favorite deity also shares similarities with kirtan.

A compelling feature of kirtan is that it has found an audience far beyond the shores of the Indian subcontinent among people who were not born Hindu and would not necessarily consider themselves Hindu either. This gives kirtan a transnational and transreligious quality. A major destination for...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary StudiesSt. Catherine UniversitySt. PaulUSA