Last Updated: October 18, 2018

Definition - What does Kirtan mean?

Kirtan is a Sanskrit word meaning “praise” or “eulogy.” It's also known as sankirtana and is used to describe a form of call-and-response chanting involving mantras or hymns.

Kirtan is a tradition that originates in Indian religions, notably Sikhism, Buddhism and Vaishnavism. The chanting is carried out alongside instruments, such as cymbals, harmonium or drums.

Yogapedia explains Kirtan

Kirtan is often practiced in conjunction with acting performances and storytelling. The subject matter is usually of religious context, but may also cover mythology or current social matters.

Knowledge of kirtan in the West was initially linked to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna movement) in the 1960s. As time progressed, the appearance of kirtan singers, such as Snatam Kaur, Deva Premal and Krishna Das, has made the tradition more popular.

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