We had such a beautiful time at Covhila in Portugal. Firstly, at Ananda Kalyanii the eco farm and service project about half an hour outside of Colhvile where we listened to Prakash talk about permaculture and helped to planting some new berry bushes. Then at Café Ananda in the town itself.
Playing at Café Ananda in Covhila was a real highlight. Shiila, the head chef, had gone to such trouble to make and to present kiwi/continental fusion cuisine with kumara (sweet potato), humus and a wonderful soup made of apple and parsnips. It was delicious!
My musicians for the night were: Kavita on khol, Jishnu Verdier on jembe, Mainju on cello, Annika (Amrita) on piano, Prahlad on bass guitar, and backing vocalists Madhuvanii and Aniisha. Together we created, what to me was like a playful current of sonic love and devotion. We sang and danced late into the night, ending with the “You are Mine” song and kiirtan.
The workshop the next day gave us chance to go deeper into the practice of kiirtan, to explore the ancient Rarhi tradition, as well as experiment with vocal harmonies on some choral kiirtans. We saw a power point on the Rarh region, that showed some kiirtan history, styles, and musical analysis of the science of kiirtan, as well as other aspects of my research. From this experience I hope that participants gained a new perspective on what is kiirtan, to think of how expansive and developed it is as a music genre and how many benefits it has through the regular practice of it in everyday life.
Twelve Hour Akhanda ‘Continuous’ Kiirtan
The next day we celebrated the opening of the Volunteer house near to Ananda Kalyanii with a 12 hour akhanda ‘continuous’ kiirtan. This day of doing kiirtan brought such a feeling of auspiciousness and joy to the participants. The finale was just so ecstatic as we played till we could no more, leaving us feeling like we had been completely scoured inside and out and made to shine. We sat up till late listening to Baba stories told by Malati and Shiila mostly, which were deeply inspiring. The chefs were wonderful, each day bringing fresh, delicious vegan cuisine to the table.
On the last day, we visited Monsanto ‘sacred saint mountain’, and climbed to the top, where we sat and sang kiirtan, meditated, then sat again in a circle on the grass, near to an original stone church. It’s a truly magnificent place, with massive rock formations, round stone houses, small stony lanes in an atmosphere that is ancient, powerful and very uplifting. I feel much gratitude to everyone who came, participated, who gardened, cooked, sang, played, did kiirtan, drove, laughed and cried and told stories, it was near perfect! BNK
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