- Cullman, Alabama


January 11, 2013

More people answer call of Kirtan chanting



Kirtan is translated sometimes as "to repeat" and sometimes as "to praise that which is exalted." The most common chants are different Sanskrit names for God. While it began as a mode of worship, for most practitioners today, going to a kirtan has nothing to do with embracing or even learning any particular theology. Most people don't know the literal meaning of the chants. They come to be part of a powerfully emotive, spiritual, communal musical event.

"You know the part of the rock concert where everyone knows the words? It's like that, but for the whole time," said Gaura Vani, a 35-year-old Silver Spring, Md. dad and freelance filmmaker who grew up in the Hare Krishna movement and is now a well-known kirtan performer. "They say one of the sources of trauma is feeling no connection between you and other parts of humanity. When you do chant and mantras, it's impossible to avoid the group connection, the sense of communion."

A kirtan feels like the merger of a seriously groovin' music show and the liveliest worship service you ever went to. It's perhaps the only place in American life that combines yoga pants with the eyes-closed, arm-extended hand-waving praise of evangelicalism. This participatory, emotive expression isn't an accident: Evangelical churches until recently were among the few growing segments of American religious life.

The similarity isn't lost on the people who do it. One recent Saturday night, more than 50 people packed into a second-floor yoga studio on Washington's Dupont Circle to hear lawyer-turned-yogi David Newman, a kirtan celeb. Some danced; others sat on the floor swaying and smiling. The event's volume knob seemed to go from low-level joy to full-on bliss — the kind you feel after climbing a gorgeous mountain or ending a tough run on a strong sprint. Strangers hugged and danced wildly.

Text Only
  • SH blessing of throats.jpg Sacred Heart holds Blessing of the Throats

    Members of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Cullman took part in the annual ancient tradition of the Blessing of Throats recently following the morning masses.

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SH Boy Scout Troop 321.jpg Sacred Heart's Boy Scout Troop honored

    Members of Boy Scout Troop 321 from Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church were honored during Mass on Scout Sunday recently in Cullman. The troop has been supported by the Church since it's inception in the early 1950s and takes part

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Methodists in crisis over gay marriage, church law

    The dispute among United Methodists over recognition of same-sex couples has lapsed into a doctrinal donnybrook, pitting clergy who are presiding at gay weddings in defiance of church law against proponents of traditional marriage who are trying to stop them.

    February 6, 2014

  • St. B. March for Life.jpg St. Bernard students attend March for Life

    St. Bernard students joined with the Diocese of Birmingham and 400,000 other pro-life supporters in Washington DC for the annual March for Life during the last week of January, capturing the attention of media mongrel CNN.

    February 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • computer.jpg Pope sees Internet as 'gift from God'

    Mark Pope Francis down as an Internet optimist. He declared his unambiguous support for the Web as a tool that brings humanity closer together in a papal statement Thursday.

    January 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • White Jesus The race of Jesus: Unknown, yet powerful

    For two thousand years, he has been worshipped and adored. Multitudes look to him each day. And yet nobody really knows the face of Jesus.

    December 27, 2013 1 Photo

  • SH Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration.jpg Sacred Heart Church's Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration

    Hispanic members of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Cullman enter church dressed in ceremonial garments of their native homeland and carrying mosaics of their patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    December 18, 2013 1 Photo

  • SH Christmas program.jpg Huntsville Collegium Musicum Christmas Program at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church

    Eight members of The Huntsville Collegium Musicum presented an acapella concert at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church recently featuring a musical depiction of the Christmas story. Using music dating back to 1420, the program featured works by Cristobal Morales, Jean Mouton, Gustav Holst and Johann Walther as well as the words of American poet Joshua Smith from the eighteenth century.   

    December 18, 2013 1 Photo

  • OCC shoeboxes.jpg Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry

    Another record has been broken by local contributors of gift filled shoeboxes to the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry Project. The OCC Collection Center for Cullman County at Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church collected 6,352 shoeboxes, breaking the previous record of 5,335 shoeboxes collected last year.

    December 10, 2013 1 Photo

  • Christ Lutheran Church and its tornado cross.jpg Processional cross returned to Christ Lutheran Church

    When the tornado tore through Cullman April 27, 2011, one of the many buildings destroyed was Christ Lutheran Church. Stunned residents throughout the city came out of shelters moments after the tornado hit and were awed by the destruction.

    December 10, 2013 1 Photo