The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, offers a highly accessible approach to Indian spirituality in contemporary American culture. Among the most intriguing facets of Hare Krishna practice are the prevalence of celebration and the use of activities such as singing, dancing, and feasting as expressions of faith. The dominant musical practice of the Hare Krishna movement is kirtan, the call-and-response performance of sacred devotional chants. According to Hare Krishna belief, kirtan can be a vehicle to spiritual realization and communion with the divine. In the context of public celebration, kirtan may also serve as a performance of the bliss promised by Krishna philosophy and an invitation to listeners to take part. This dissertation examines kirtan as a tool in the mediation of social encounters by considering elements of devotion, participation, and agency in musical performances at four festivals: two Rath Yatra parades in New York City and Los Angeles that take the practices of Krishna worship into public spaces; the Festival of the Holy Name in Alachua, Florida, which involves deep immersion in the process of singing kirtan; and the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork, Utah, during which a large crowd consisting almost entirely of those not affiliated with the Krishna movement nevertheless gathers to participate in a weekend of Krishna-oriented musicking. I posit that the participatory nature of kirtan as performed in a celebratory context serves to negotiate issues of personal and social identity both within the Krishna movement and in encounters with those outside of it. I further argue that kirtan has the potential to create experiences that are perceived as being personally and spiritually meaningful not only to adherents to Krishna consciousness, but to those who ascribe to differing belief systems but nevertheless find elements of common spiritual experience within the kirtan process.
|Commitee:||Erndl, Kathleen, Gunderson, Frank, Von Glahn, Denise|
|School:||The Florida State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, American studies, Music|
|Keywords:||Communal bliss, Devotional music, Festivals, Hare Krishna, Kirtan|
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