The best religious music doesn’t proselytize. Rather, it enraptures you in its beauty, showing the strength of its convictions without forcing you into its grasp—it invites you into communion with it, no matter your walk of life. The talented songwriter Manika Kaur knows this, a fact that can be heard on full display on her latest LP, Bow to You Waheguru.
The record’s press release gives some context for the LP’s lyrical explorations: “Kaur’s musical output is inseparable from her spiritual heritage. All her songs flow from her devout Sikh faith, from the songs and sacred stories her family shared as she was growing up in Australia.” As evinced by tracks such as opener “Aukhee Gharhee”, which is laced with gorgeous violin, Kaur’s ability to make her unique religious experiences feel universal in their magnanimity of feeling is a powerful one.
Stream “Aukhee Gharhee” below.
Kaur goes into detail with PopMatters about the track: “‘Aukhee Gharhee’ came in a moment of pain. I went to the prayer room at home feeling quite hurt and when I opened up the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh holy scriptures) this was the passage I received. The meaning of the words immediately uplifted me: ‘He does not let His devotees see the difficult times; this is His innate nature. Giving His hand, He protects His devotee; with each and every breath, He cherishes him.’
“Moments later, this haunting melody was playing in my head and I found myself singing through the tears. I knew instinctively that I wanted the violin but having the opportunity to collaborate with Jyotsna Srikanth on this track was a dream come true, her haunting violin felt like it was playing what I was feeling. This track is special to me because The Universe took my pain and turned it into poetry, now when I remember that moment I only feel peace. Waheguru Ji”.
Bow To You Waheguru is out via United Sound on 20 January.