Kirtan Resonates Through The National Cathedral

December 3, 2008

Author: Anju Kaur

Source: Sikh News Network

One gurdwara’s long-term work in the interfaith community has brought Sikh music to the Washington National Cathedral for more than 20 years, but the message of Guru Nanak went unknown this year.

Gurdwara Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, of North Potomac, Md., first became a member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington in 1987. One of the interfaith group’s more celebrated programs is its annual Interfaith Concert, which brings religious music traditions of different faiths, including Gurbani kirtan, under one grand roof.

This year, the gurdwara invited Bhai Satvinder Singh and Bhai Harvinder Singh of Delhi, accompanied by Bhai Manjeet Singh on tabla, to lead its kirtani jathaa in performing the shabad by Guru Nanak: Vich Duniya Sev Kamayiaye, Taan Darghai Baisan Payeeaye.

With the largest number of instruments and the largest number of performers, 30, their voices carried throughout the large ornate hall of the cathedral.

The only thing missing from the Sikh performance was the meaning of the shabad. It was neither explained in the event booklet nor explained by the announcers.

Still, many in the audience said they just enjoyed the sights and sounds of the evening.

For Brenda Montague of Bethesda, this was “seventh heaven,” she said. “What I like so much is the feeling to get us together; I hope this continues.” This was her fourth time at this event.

For Mpala Sinotheni, a recent immigrant from South Africa, this was her first concert. “It’s wonderful to see all religions,” she said. “This is the way it should be – We are all God’s children.”

The Interfaith Conference has been a labor of love for Amrit Kaur, secretary of the gurdwara for more than 20 years. She became the first Sikh president of the interfaith group in October.