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Rocking in Sanskrit

January 2008
Rocking in Sanskrit

Shanti Shanti calls itself ‘the only Sanskrit rock band in America,’ although it’s not clear what percentage of the lyrics is sung in Sanskrit. It may be more accurate to describe the style as fusion, with a strong overlay of chanting in Sanskrit. “Its music is more Enya than Aerosmith, so ‘rock’ might be a stretch, but every Shanti Shanti song—be it a meditative chant or busy pop ditty—weaves in words from a 5000-year-old language,” according to the Colorado-based Gazette. Despite these qualifiers, Shanti Shanti is noteworthy in more than one way. An entire family of devout, American-born Catholics makes up the band. And sisters Andrea and Sara Forman, the two lead singers, have been chanting in Sanskrit since the ages of 9 and 7, respectively. Shanti Shanti’s new age music is not for everyone, to be sure, but the band seems to be doing its bit to promote India’s classical language. In recent years, Sanskrit has enjoyed a revival of sorts in India and abroad, largely through the efforts of the Indian government, organizations like Samskrita Bharati, and well-known universities and scholars.

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