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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Sita’s Light to Lead Kirtan in Mount Kisco: Singing Sacred Songs and Mantras

Miriam Zernis

“Sita” Miriam Zernis and her eclectic ensemble of musicians known at Sita’s Light will lead the community in the group singing practice known as kirtan—a form of bhakti (devotional) yoga—from 7 to 8:30 p.m., August 6, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mount Kisco. Kirtan, which involves singing sacred songs and mantras, usually in Sanskrit, has grown rapidly with the yoga movement in the West as more people seek spiritual connection.

“Kirtan is a means to connect to the heart and divinity that lies within,” says Anne Bentzen, a council member of StarVisions, which is hosting the event. “It extends across cultures, races and religions, offering the profound experience of an ancient sacred tradition.”

Kirtan is practical and available to everyone, she notes. All the senses are involved: participants can play cymbals or small drums, clap their hands or just sit meditatively. “In the early stages of the chanting process, you immediately feel good, cleansed, relieved and peaceful,” she says. “Chanting is healing, nurturing and fundamentally uplifting. It culminates in an overriding sense of love—for God and for all living beings.”

The public is welcome, and there are no rules for participating other than having an open heart and mind.

An internationally certified Sivananda Yoga teacher, Sita Miriam Zernis has organized kirtans in Westchester and Fairfield Counties, Canada, Arizona and California since 2009, offering kirtan and sacred music at yoga studios, spiritual centers and private homes. A former editor for ABC News, she says, “I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing that facilitating a beautiful prayer experience for and with others.”

The Mount Kisco kirtan is one of many spiritual enrichment opportunities that StarVisions, a nonprofit charity, creates for the community. It also hosts equinox and solstice celebrations during the year.

The cost to attend is $30 at the door, or $25 with advance registration at The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is located at 236 S. Bedford Rd., Rt. 172, Mt. Kisco. For more information, call 914.236.4503 or email [email protected].