SHARANYA was recently invited by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto to be part of a series of chanting workshops dedicated to connecting members to various world traditions through song and chant. We were honored to be part of the series and grateful to Terry Passarotti from their congregation for asking us to join in!
About 25 of us gathered together on February 21st, a rainy Sunday evening, to explore the sacred sounds of chants from the Vedas, Upanishads and Tantras. We wove ancient and contemporary melodies together, honoring both tradition and the unfolding of spirit in the here and now through devotional renderings that one participant found strikingly similar to many Western hymns. Making the chants accessible to the audience despite the relative unfamiliarity of those attending with Sanskrit was certainly a challenge, but it was an easy hurdle in this group–many were willing to just go for it! Someone did mention he found it hard to connect deeply to the Divine through a foreign tongue, but everyone managed to follow the transliterations provided near enough to the letter.
We started and ended our evening with chants familiar to those who regularly attend pujas, opening with OM Maa! and ending with the Pavamana Mantra. Shakers and bells helped us feel the stirrings of energy as we sounded the syllables together, and everyone learned some of the deeper meanings intended by the sometimes seemingly simple words.
Both goddess and god were called throughout, and mantras acknowledging the divinity of Mother and Father, the sacred place of the ancestors, the desire for peace, and the beauty of Kali’s heart were shared in circle. Releasing strict adherence to any formalities, we were able to also enjoy the power of sacred touch and healing energy, chanting OM Tara Tutare Ture Svaha while sharing heart space, hand to heart and heart to hand in pairs.
With gratitudes and blessings, we ended the evening together, a soulful “Jai Maa!” echoing with us all as we made our way, each one of us, home. Thank you to the UU community and those who gathered and participated for having this workshop. We hope to see you at a puja or in your space again soon!