UA Vedic Society hosts Sacred Sounds

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Photo courtesy of Nagaraj Hegde and Mayapuris. 

Sam West

The Ferguson Ballroom filled with the sound of music from the other side of the world Thursday Oct. 8, as the University of Alabama students danced and sang in a celebration of Indian culture.

Last night, a renowned band called the Mayapuris put on a performance that blended rock and roll with traditional Vedic music. The event, Sacred Sounds, was hosted by the UA Vedic Society.

 “This will give the audience an exposure to Indian rock fusion music, along with a deep, spiritual, meditative experience,” said Nagaraj Hegde, a doctoral student in Electrical Engineering who helps organize events for the Vedic Society.

The Mayapuris performed a traditional Indian style of music called kirtan, which is typically religious in nature.

“Kirtan is a music that goes along with meditation,” said Hegde. “We try to go deep within our own hearts and experience the divinity inside.”

During the concert, the audience danced along to the music and recited mantras, or traditional words and phrases from Vedic literature. Hegde gave one example of a common mantra.

 “If people are into yoga, they will recite ‘om,’” he said. “It’s a spiritual vibration.”

Speaking these chants in conjunction with the music is meant to be a spiritual or cathartic experience.

“The saying of these mantras will help relieve the mind of anxiety and all the negativity you have in your heart,” Hegde said.

Hannah Tytus, a junior majoring in Anthropology, assists with some of the Vedic Society’s events. She said people are sometimes put off by the religious nature of kirtan music, but that they shouldn’t be.

“I think it’s hard for people to digest sometimes, because there’s a stigma of the real point of having it be a spiritual or religious group, but it’s not really like that,” she said. “It’s more about people coming together and allowing people to just let loose, dance, sing, be happy without worrying about all the other stuff that comes with day to day life.”

The Mayapuris’ unique take on kirtan combines traditional Indian music with rock and roll. The band used guitar and bass alongside flute, Indian drums and harmonium.

The Vedic Society also hosts other events. Almost every Thursday, it holds yoga and meditation sessions in the Ferguson Center. The club also sponsors vegetarian cooking classes three times a semester, for anyone looking to give up meat, go vegan or just eat healthier.

“Most of the time people think being a vegetarian or vegan means just eating boiled potatoes and salad. We try to take out that notion from people, and teach them how to make Indian and Western delicacies which can be easily made,” said Hegde.

In the spring, the society hosts an Indian color festival, which involves food, live music, dancing, and the throwing of colored powders.

Tytus said that the Vedic Council is a diverse group of students, and that part of what makes the club appeal to her is that everyone involved has a good attitude.

“Everybody despite their beliefs is super positive in there,” she said. “Everyone always comes together, there’s always great music and camaraderie.”