Shanti Mission band at BSF 2011From our music blogger/ARMA correspondent, Anthony Dunkley

Walking through the subdued and low-lit atmosphere of the Arma Gardens, it’s hard to imagine this impressive space soon to be filled with Bali Spirit. Going downstairs and across the little bridge, the hum of expectation can be heard by the crowd of a hundred or so waiting for the show to begin, chatting in groups, happy to be here for the event, and trusting that the spirit will come.

Shanti Mission, the opening act from Australia, immediately brighten the stage with their colours and their intention.

‘We sing a line and you sing back to us, and that’s what makes Kirtan!’ says Parvati Ma, and with a smiles a mile wide, they launch into an acoustically driven rendition of Shiva Shambo.

The performance is tight, yet so is the crowd – and they need loosening. And that after all, is what Kirtan is about. With 2 acoustic guitars, a jambé, and a 5 string bass, they provide a balanced and rock solid support for the vocals that are well rehearsed and proportioned.

The invitation is recognized and the audience can’t help but get involved; smiles of recognition cross their faces as they begin to sway and pray with the arrival of the spirit they have called for.

Shanti Mission band at BSF 2011

The band moves through the set, including Om Hum Hare Hum, Jai Jai Ram Hare Ram and the Kali Mantra, which brings people to their feet in celebration. The crowd is warm and now ready, moving gleefully, arms raised in praise and devotion.

The closing mantra Om Dum Dorgai Namaha begins with its gentle invite, and true to Kirtan form elevates each person to appreciation in movement, in moment.

After the festival Shanti Mission will be running a retreat locally, details of which can be found at shantimission.org, and will be also holding nightly Kirtan events at Ubud Aura, next to Yoga Barn, beginning Tuesday 29th for four nights from 5-7 p.m.

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