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"Every Word Is a Song, Every Step Is a Dance"

Title: "Every Word Is a Song, Every Step Is a Dance": Participation, Agency, and the Expression of Communal Bliss in Hare Krishna Festival Kirtan.
Name(s): Brown, Sara, author
Bakan, Michael, professor directing dissertation
Erndl, Kathleen, university representative
Gunderson, Frank, committee member
Van Glahn, Denise, committee member
College of Music, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2012
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: 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.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-5323 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2012.
Date of Defense: August 31, 2012.
Keywords: Devotional music, Festivals, Hare Krishna, Kirtan
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Michael Bakan, Professor Directing Dissertation; Kathleen Erndl, University Representative; Frank Gunderson, Committee Member; Denise Von Glahn, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Music
Persistent Link to This Record:
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Host Institution: FSU

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Brown, S. (2012). "Every Word Is a Song, Every Step Is a Dance": Participation, Agency, and the Expression of Communal Bliss in Hare Krishna Festival Kirtan. Retrieved from