Saturday, September 9th, 2023
There is just enough time to breathe. Between my flights from Halifax and Vancouver (departure early tomorrow), it was more or less a stopover at home – Toronto – for a few hours. I was slotted to make an appearance at the Kalibhari, a Durga temple, for more than just a visit – to lead kirtan amongst our Bangla friends.
Since the 80s, I have had connections with the people of Bengal, Bangladesh, and Orissa. I won't forget my dear friend Raj Saranghi who introduced me and the Toronto community to the celebratory practice of Astha Prahar, and unending chanting of the Maha Mantra. Over 24 hours, various groups of chanters are scheduled to lead a kirtan, and often while circumambulating a nicely one up altar or shrine (clockwise).
My timeframe at the Kalibhari was in the evening. Although there was some confusion with time slots involving the various groups, my heart was warmed to hear and see the tradition in action. These folks of Bengali origin seemed to get the melodies right (no Bollywood influence). The tunes bring you to the time of Chaitanya, a simpler era, from a down-home village. The women wear those white saris with red borders, all clean and lightly starched, while the men come in their favourite dressy kurtas.
I did not see too many younger men or women, and there were few children. I complimented one young boy (maybe 9 years old) who took a good crack at the mridanga drum. Over the years I've gotten to know these fine folks who take their chanting quite seriously. Ashok was kind to rope us in – the devotees of ISKCON.
MAY THE SOURCE BE WITH YOU!