A melody starts, wistful and longing. It sweeps the crowd. The singer closes his eyes and his song bursts forth. It is wrenched from his heart, it seems. We call out in response. It is an easy mantra. Cymbals clash and punctuate a rhythm. Drums begin to throb and thunder.
They say the drum beat represents the heartbeat of God maddened by love.
That’s The Kirtaniyas—four talented performers—all of them singers and musicians. These energetic, multi-talented artists come from a rich, colorful background. They grew up in a Krishna culture of song, dance, philosophy and devotion. At the heart of it all, there was always Kirtan. It owned their passion before they could talk. Restlessly tapping out drum beats till they got on their mothers’ nerves; dreamily humming tunes; studying songs and lyrics and language; learning to play instruments—they were never more passionate about anything.