Kirtan is worship in which Gurbani is sung and various musical instruments are played. Kirtan is integral to Sikh worship and is performed daily in Gurdwaras throughout the world. Each of the Sikh Guru’s performed Kirtan and placed much importance on this mode of worship and most Shabads in Sri Guru Granth Sahib have been written in a musical tune called Raag there are 31 Raags that have been used throughout Sri Guru Granth Sahib.Traditionally Kirtan was sung using string instruments such as the Rabaab but nowadays Kirtan is commonly performed using the Harmonium and the Tabla.
This musical form of worship entices the listener to both the musical talents of the Ragee (Kirtan performer) and the enlightening teachings of Gurbani. The Guru’s have praised Kirtan in the following manner
ਮਾਝ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤੀ ਸਫਲ ਏਹਾ ਹੈ ਕਾਰੀ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥
Sing the Lord’s Kirtan this is a blessed action. (Ang 107)
ਗਉੜੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਐਸਾ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥ ਈਹਾ ਊਹਾ ਜੋ ਕਾਮਿ ਤੇਰੈ ॥੧॥
Oh my mind perform that Kirtan which bears fruit here and hereafter. (Ang 236)
ਮਾਰੂ ਸੋਲਹੇ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਕਲਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਪਰਧਾਨਾ ॥
In Kaljug (the present age) the Kirtan of the Lord's Praises is supreme.
As part of daily worship in Gurdwaras throughout the world Kirtan of Asa-Di-Var is performed in the morning and worship usually ends with Kirtan of 6 Pauris (verses) of Anand Sahib. In many Gurdwaras Kirtan of Choupai Sahib is performed prior to Anand Sahib for the Chardi Kala (High Spirits) of the Panth (Sikh Nation).
Kirtan Darbars (Kirtan concerts) are held at times of celebration and remembrance in Gurdwaras throughout the world which usually last for a few hours and themed Shabads are sung throughout. Sometimes all-night Kirtan is performed which is referred to as a Kirtan Rensbai.
The Damdami Taksal has helped keep the tradition of Kirtan alive by teaching many Sikhs the art of Kirtan and all Raagi’s who are taught are taught within the tradition of singing Kirtan from memory not using Pothis when doing Kirtan. To this effect many professional and world famous Kirtani’s have been trained by the Damdami Taksal and in the past and now various students of Damdami Taksal have performed and do perform Kirtan at Harimander Sahib (Golden Temple) Amritsar.