It’s been the subject of scholarly study, doomsday prophesizing and New Age philosophizing alike for…well, pretty much forever. It’s inspired countless books, millions of articles, a major motion picture, and more than a few good cartoons. Whatever your beliefs are about 12.21.12 — the end of the world, the beginning of a new world, or none of the above – one thing is clear: the occasion is being marked worldwide with consciousness-raising events focused on prayer, meditation, and yes, kirtan. Along with more than a few end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it blow-out bashes.
It’s no wonder: 12.21.12 is not only the much-ballyhooed date on which the Mayan calendar supposedly ends (but not really); it is also the winter solstice — the longest night of the year and the turning point for the “return of light” by way of gradually lengthening days. Some theorists suggest the date coincides with Earth’s crossing a central nexxus in the Milky Way galaxy, signifying the end (or beginning) of an epoch in the orbit of our sun around the galaxy’s spiraling vortex.
There are as many theories out there about what 12.21.12 means as you care to dig for (30.5 million Google results in .24 seconds). One recurring theme is the idea of a kind of global metanoia, a spiritual transformation or rise in consciousness like the world hasn’t seen in say, 5,125 years (the length of this last period in the Mayan timekeeping system). Within the “conscious community,” 12.21.12 has become, it would seem, a lightning rod for stepping up the call for global unity and action to recognize our interconnectedness and avert ecological disaster on our home planet, a fate that seems to be racing toward us with accelerating speed.
With that in mind, we set out to find out what was happening in the bhakti community. We didn’t have to look far…
Golden Age Global Kirtan
Quite simply, kirtan will be everywhere on 12.21.12. From every corner of the globe, chanters will be beating their drums and raising their voices in mantra throughout the day, all day, all night. Championed by NoCal bhakta K.d. Devi Dasi and the non-profit Kuli Mela Association, whose mission is to promote and preserve bhakti yoga philosophy, Golden Age Global Kirtan links chanters and Krishna communities worldwide for a common gathering celebrating “a shared experience of Loving Service, Bhakti Yoga.”
It has been a volunteer, person-to-person effort, Devi Dasi said, using social networking for spiritual activism. “On a deeper level we are activating a network of real people, real hearts to be connected, not on-line this time, but in our hearts, body, mind and spirit…in COMMUNITY!” she said. As of Wednesday, some 25 countries had signed on to participate in Global Kirtan — with groups of ’2 or 200′ people — and the list was growing fast as the news went viral in the bhakti world.
“This is not simply each of us in our own corner praying,” Devi Dasi said. “This is a grass-roots call out to one another, as brothers and sisters, activating our communities with unified intentions, beyond borders, countries, or organization.” For more info and to add your kirtan to the list, visit the Kulimela Assocation’s page on facebook.
UNIFY Global Moment of Peace
This worldwide effort links events around the globe in an umbrella event being called simply, UNIFY. Highlights are a globally synchronized “Solstice Moment of Peace” at 11:11 GMT (6:11 a.m. EST) and a “Global Unification Moment” at 20:00 GMT (3 p.m. EDT), where people will gather the world over for a silent prayer, meditation or ceremony with the intention of uniting for world peace. From a Unify.org press release:
The hope behind the ‘Unify’ idea is that joining in with these events will demonstrate that people have more desire to participate in something positive, than to dwell on the doom and gloom of apocalyptic predictions. Unify.org is serving as a hub for these events, including helping organize meditation flash mobs in city centers to live-streaming ceremonies at Mexican archaeological sites with hundreds of thousands in attendance to coordinating an interfaith moment in Jerusalem between major world religions.
Unify.org will live-stream footage of key events on the day including festivals, ceremonies and events from Jerusalem, The Pyramids at Giza, Stonehenge and Glastonbury, Chichen Itza, Palenque, Teotihuacan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Lake Titicaca, Cape Town, Byron Bay, Australia and even Antarctica. For details on the movement and individual events, see www.unify.org.
Global Convergence at Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Global Convergence is a 3-day adventure retreat to Giza, Egypt (and a continuing Nile River cruise afterward) that culminates with a dawn-breaking ceremony at the Great Pyramid on 12.21.12, which will be live-streamed via www.unify.org. Details of the ceremony are sketchy on the Global Convergence website, but as far as we can tell, it will feature “a selection of the top electronic music producers and DJ’s from the west coast’s music scene” as well as world-music pioneers Arjun Baba and Fallah Fi Allah, who never fail to rock the stage at Bhakti Fest with their high-voltage brand of Sufi Qawwali music. Presented by L.A. electronic-music producers The Do Lab; for more details, see www.globalconvergence2012.com.
Best Bhakti Bets
(If we had a teleporter and could go anywhere, we’d beam in on these first — right after Arjun Baba’s set at the Great Pyramid, that is.)
Kirtaniyas at New Braj: At the top of the list is the first-ever New Braj 24-Hour Kirtan at the community of Krishna devotees in New Braj Village in central California, near Sequoia National Park. Spearheaded by The Kirtaniyas, the internationally beloved foursome of “Krishna kids” Vijay Krsna, Sarasvati, Rasika Dasi and Nitai Prem, this kirtan immersion will span 12 hours each day Friday and Saturday. Rumor has it there may be a live-stream of the chanting (the next best thing to beaming there); stay tuned to The Bhakti Beat’s facebook page for up-to-the-minute updates. Starts at 10 a.m., New Braj Village, CA. Details here.
SRI Kirtan & World Peace in the Catskills: It will be mantras and meditation in the mountains at this weekend retreat featuring Sruti Ram and Ishwari, the Woodstock, NY duo behind SRI Kirtan, who will lead ecstatic chant as part of Friday evening’s program. Go for the night or the whole weekend by joining the World Peace Meditation Retreat at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, N.Y. Learn more.
Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe in Phoenix: Can you say transformance? Any show with this band will transform you; Larisa Stow is passion personified, love without limits, delivering a wake-up call to anyone who will listen. Can you hear it? The Tribe takes their mantra rock to Phoenix this weekend, kicking it off with a celebration of ceremony and community with drum, flute, song and dance that they are headlining Friday night. On Saturday, Stow will lead a Mantra Playshop session, all part of the 12.21.12 festivities of the non-profit Fusion Foundation. Find out more.
Bhakti Blessings Coast-to-Coast
IN THE WEST
Venice, CA: Rebirth of the Light Winter Solstice Movement Meditation with Shiva Rea, Dave Stringer, Global Sonic DJ Fabian Alsultany , Donna De Lory, Spring Groove, Yehoshua Brill and more. 2-10 p.m., Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, Venice, CA. More info.
Los Angeles, CA: Celebrating the New Age, an evening of “live yoga, live music, live food and live people” featuring multi-instrumentalist Sheela Bringi and Clinton Patterson (producer of Bringi’s debut CD in-the-works), with Leonice Shinneman, playing blues/raga/kirtan. 6:30 p.m. at Peace Yoga Gallery, Los Angeles. Details.
Richmond, CA: Blessings for the New Millennium,a multicultural evening of mantra, music and sacred ceremony, featuring Daniel Paul and Gina Salá, who are just finishing up their West Coast storm tour to launch their collaborative CD, Tabla Mantra. Includes Sound Healing with Jan Cercone, Taiko drumming with Eden Aoba Taiko, and of course, tabla mantra with Paul & Salá. Find out more.
San Rafael, CA: Cosmic Dance Party with MC Yoga & special guests. Described as an “Intergalactic Planetary Dance Party In Northern California to celebrate the end of the Mayan Calendar, the Winter Solstice, and anything else that makes you feel like dancing.” That about covers it…and dance you will want to: with Robin Livingston on deck and Amanda Devi on visuals, this threesome pumps out high-voltage, bass-heavy tracks from MC’s latest CD, Pilgrimage, that you can’t help but move to. Get the scoop.
Vancouver, BC: Mantra, kirtan and labyrinth meditation featuring the World Peace Flame, organized by Sandra Leigh and Give Peace a Chant Kirtan Community. 7 p.m., Labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Vancouver, BC. Details here.
Seattle, WA: Dharma Sound is presenting kirtan at 7 p.m., Samudra Yoga, Bremerton, WA.
IN THE EAST
Rosemont, PA: Stay Strong 2 Release Party and Winter Solstice kirtan celebration with David Newman, Mira and The Beloved. This is the official release party for Stay Strong 2: You Can Count On Me. The evening is a benefit for The Bridge Foundation and Global Green USA. 8 p.m., The New Leaf Club, Rosemont, PA. Details here.
Boston, MA: Tom Lena is hosting a special Solstice edition of his regularly scheduled Kitchari Kirtan, featuring Beantown chantress Irene Solea. The evening will open with Shakti Rowan leading the KK Posse in a Solstice Ritual to welcome the new earth. 7 p.m., Cambridge, MA. Details here.
Bedford, NY: Satya Franche & MA Kirtan will add their “vibration to the celestial vortex” for holiday chanting and potluck gathering, beginning 7 p.m. at Transcendence at Sun Raven, Bedford, NY. More info.
West Hartford, CT: Celebrate the Winter Solstice with friends and family in a gathering that includes the ancient Homa Hotra fire ceremony to “let go of that which we no longer need and manifest all that we envision for ourselves in the future.” And of course, there will be chanting and dancing. 8:30 p.m.; West Hartford Yoga. Details here.
Bennington, VT: DEVI presents an evening of Solstice kirtan with special guest, Bill ‘Jambavan’ Pfleging. DEVI’s just-released CD, “The Path of Love,” will be available for purchase. 6 p.m., Karma Cat Yoga, Bennington, VT. More info.
IN THE MIDWEST
Minneapolis, MN: The Midwest gets a head start on 12.21.12 with a celebration of mantra by Heartland bhaktas Sitari and Kalyana with Pavan Kumar (aka Susan Shehata, Colleen Buckman and Keith Helke), who are releasing their first self-titled CD on 12.20. The evening includes a guided “clearing” meditation and a celebration of the return of the sun, and also features the music of Blue Soul Caravan and special guest Jill James. Long-time champions of midwestern bhav, this Minneapolis-based band (which also includes Will Kemperman) made its debut at Bhakti Fest Midwest this summer. Details here.
Green Bay, WI: Erika King and Be Alford team up for live music and yin yoga for a Winter Solstice Celebration at the Studio for Well-Being in Neenah, WI. More info.
Chicago, IL: The Bodhi Spiritual Center is hosting Birth of the Golden Age Celebration, a two-hour program including a Q & A led by Mariana Gigea on the Awakened State, a Crystal Bowl Meditation, dancing, and hands-on blessings for awakening in the tradition of Amma Bhagavan, founder of the Oneness University. Find out more.
Your turn: tell us where you’ll be chanting on this long-anticipated day. Will you be celebrating, praying, hiding your head in the sand…?