Remembering Kirtan Class

I have my own memories of kirtan class. During my prepubescent days, learning the harmonium was an option, but then as puberty struck this male, I quickly switched to the tabla. My days were soon coming to an end as I was entering 8th grade and I overnight, radically I came to believe I was “too cool” for such things. While at times I regretted my decision, still in a private moment near a harmonium or piano, I can still play the notes to Jo Mange Thakur Apne Te Soi Soi Deve.

Despite certain trepidations expressed by some commenters, the opportunities, classes, and even number of Sikh children engaging with their faith through gatka, kirtan, Khalsa/Punjabi schools seems to be ever-growing. The Boston Globe website recently featured an article on such practices in an article titled Practicing Ancient Arts of Ancestors. Although I personally had some issues with the article in terms of the writer not being able to differentiate practices tied to the continuation of a faith tradition and those like bhangra that are more secular in nature, still maybe that is too much to expect from an outsider. Enjoy the clip of the young Chinese girl.

The writer of the article sees values in these things as they help create well-rounded individuals and may even help college applications. Still I wonder what has been the long-term effect of the first generation of those Sikhs that were amongst the first to start these classes. Last week, I gave a short sociology of the Sikh community in the US, but I would love to hear from others about their stories. If you continue to sing shabads, when and where do you do it? If you quit, why did you quit and are there any regrets? If you never learned, did you wish for such an opportunity? What was the situation and vibrancy with the youth like in your local community?


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