Last night I attended Balarama’s Appearance Day celebration at the temple. Again I had those feelings of being privileged to be able to do.
A group of about 20 women, arrayed in a loose formation, were dancing together. They were doing the two step forward, then back to place of origin style. Grandmothers and young girls, mothers and daughters all to the beat and in harmony.
The variations of colors in their saris contrasted with their unity of purpose, dancing for the pleasure of the Lord. It seemed so serene and active at the same time, a joy to behold.
As the kirtan slowly built into a faster rhythm, a few of the younger ones broke ranks and would throw in a spin or two, but still within the context of the group swaying forward and backwards.
The men were perhaps more enthusiastic in the physical expression of the dance, but certainly lacked the unity of movement that gave the women such a forceful grace.
As I was listening to the kirtan I realized that Rupanuga who was leading it had been leading kirtans I have been attending for more than 25 years, perhaps closer to thirty years, in this same temple room, as well as other places. While perhaps hundreds of different kirtan leaders have lead kirtan in the temple room over that time, he has been a constant. I was finding a deep comfort in the familiarity I have with his voice and his style and the continuity of living in community that it brings.
He doesn’t try to blow you away with his mrdanga playing viruosity, as some modern kirtan leaders do, but sticks to the traditional beats and mantras that have powered kirtans for hundreds of years, hence also bringing the continuity of sampradaya to the present. It was humbling to think that for hundreds of years Vaisnavas have danced and chanted to these very same beats.
Again, feeling of being fortunate to have been allowed to be part of all this.