Friday, March 30, 2007

Toronto Rathayatra 2006

The day dawns bright. I love Toronto Rathayatra. There’s just something about Toronto – the energy is electric.

“Bhakti, you gotta get in there and liven it up.”

“What? Me?” I reply, incredulous.

“Yeah, got a tune yet?”

The thing is, when it gets to me, the kirtan IS alive, and I feel so strange taking over the mic. Everyone stands poised, the drummers looking to me. I grin and begin. I feel the electricity from the get-go. The rhythm rocks and voices echo off the skyscrapers. Woo-hoo!

And then, the mic cuts out.

It blinkers on a couple times, then dies, and doesn’t come back on. No way. I blink in a moment of disbelief. The mic just had to die on me.

After that heart-stopping moment of shock, I grin and continue on – the show… must go on. So I continue singing, raising my voice to the challenge, free from the wiring and electronics and speakers. After all, this is what it must have been like in Lord Chaitanya’s time.

As we make our way down Yonge Street, we hit an intersection and the parade halts. Suddenly a rush of people flow to our cart – Lady Subhadra’s cart – like water into a valley. The kirtan builds and builds as hundreds of people in cars, buses, on the street, and in the stores look on. I reach in from the core of my voice to sing over the drums and raise my arms and close my eyes. When I open them, arms are raised to the sky and thunderous voices resound as the Rathayatra kirtan reaches a beautiful crescendo

For a moment, it doesn’t make a difference: Puri or Toronto.

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