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Kirtan (Sanskrit: "to repeat"; also Sankirtan) is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, the two-headed mrdanga or pakawaj drum, and karatal hand cymbals. It is a major practice in Vaisnava devotionalism, Sikhism, the Sant traditions, and some forms of Buddhism, as well as other religious groups.
 Kirtan and the Bhakti movement
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Sikh practices and discipline
In the Bhagavad-gita (9.13-9.14) Krishna states that great souls worship and glorify him single mindedly. The practice of kirtan was popularized as a means to this end in the Hindu devotional revival of the Moghul era.
The Varkari saint Namdev (c. 1270–1350), a Shudra tailor, used the kirtan form of singing to praise the glory of god Vithoba.
In the early 16th century CE Chaitanya Mahaprabhu traveled throughout India, popularizing Krishna sankirtan.
The Sikh tradition of Kirtan or Gurmat Sangeet was started by Guru Nanak at Kartarpur in the early 16th century and was strengthened by his successors, particularly Guru Arjan, at Amritsar. In spite of several interruptions, kirtan continues to be performed at the Golden Temple and other historical Gurdwaras .
Sikhs refer to a hymn or section of the Guru Granth Sahib as a Shabad . The first shabad in the SGGS is the Mool Mantar. The hymns are arranged in chapters named after musical ragas, all the shabads in any chap
Shabad is a word meaning hymn. In Sikhism, a Shabad is a sacred song selected from Sikhism's scripture Guru Granth Sahib, everlasting Guru of the Sikhs. It is not the book, paper, ink, binding or cover which is considered as the Guru, rather it is the shabad, the sacred songs of Gurbani, and the enlightening emanating brilliance which is present when the shabad is seen, spoken, or sung, and its meaning reflected on, which is the actual Guru of the Sikhs. The shabads or hymns of Guru Granth Sahib are known as Gurbani or the Guru's word, and are written in the Gurmukhi script and composed in raag, a musical score. The main focus of any Sikh worship service is kirtan, or singing the sacred shabads of Gurbani. Shabads may be sung by kirtanis, (individual singers,) or ragis, (professional singers versed in Gurbani) accompanied by sangat (members of the Sikh congregation).
Sikhs revere the scripture of the Granth as their guru and consider Gurbani the means of enlightenment and salvation. Guru Raam Das wrote:
"Baanee guroo guroo hai baanee vich baanee amrit saarae||
The word is the embodiment of the Guru and the Guru is the embodiment of the word. Within the word immortalizing elixir is contained.
Gur baanee kehai saevak jan maanai partakh guroo nistaarae||5||
The Guru's word instructs that whoever believes and acts accordingly is personally emancipated by the Guru. ||5|| SGGS||982
Eka bani ek gur eko sabd vichar||
Only the word of the One Enlightener alone is the one hymn to be reflected upon." SGGS||646
"Roorri bani har paiaa gur sabdi bichar||
Beauteous is the word, the Divine Lord is obtained when the Enlightener's hymns are contemplated." SGGS||936
"Gur sabdi man bedhia prabh miliaa aap hadoor ||2||
The Gurus hymns pierce the mind and the soul is ushered into the divine presence by God himself." SGGS||37
"Anhat bani nirmal sabd vajaae gur sabdi sach samavania ||4||
The unstruck word resounds in the immaculate hymn through the Enlightener's instruction is one absorbed in truth." SGGS||115