Mantralogy is a US based team, combining our record label and clothing line that are based in Albany, NY, as well as the Mantralogy artists who live and travel all over the US and further afield. There has been such a rapid growth of interest in kirtan and bhakti yoga in the US, and we’ve been excited to be a part of that adventure.
However, things are blossoming elsewhere too. Here in my homeland of England, Kirtan has most commonly been known through the activities of the Hare Krishna movement in the UK – notably reaching the top 10 in the pop charts in the 1970s with a full on kirtan – unthinkable these days (or perhaps to be repeated!?) Over the years, Hare Krishnas have also been seen dancing and singing in the streets, wearing orange robes, and looking happier than any average English person usually permits. Just kidding.
- It’s been interesting for me to realise that few connected this chanting in the street with the popular kirtan of today – mostly taking place in upscale yoga studios and private venues. When I’ve sung the Hare Krishna mantra in recent kirtans on tour, many have approached me afterwards and said how touched they are to finally understand the meaning behind what they saw those ‘crazy people’ doing.
Though it’s always been acknowledged that the US has had more of a headstart with the kirtan boom, the UK is following close behind. This weekend saw the first ever Bhakti Music Festival, taking place in the Somerset countryside. In a field, surrounded by cows, 300 people turned up to spend the weekend chanting and attending workshops on meditation, healing arts and kirtan from many different traditions. Almost the same number of people were on a waiting list for the sold out event, which had to be restricted due to venue limitations.
I attended with my sister Tulasi, and we did kirtan on both days to a wonderful group of chanters. We also got to support others too, like Narayani, who has been tirelessly touring the UK in with her one-woman mission to capture the country with love for kirtan.
The festival was organised as non-profit, with all proceeds going to charity. Organisers said they hoped it marked the planting of a new bhakti seed in the UK, and that it could one day become an event of the likes of Bhaktifest. I interviewed Naomi ‘Hari Pyari’ Francis – the festival’s mastermind, midway through the event: