Gadei Giri Kirtan
The Giri dynasty has been very famous throughout the whole of Orissa from the time of Srila Syamananda Pandita (Mid-sixteenth century) for their kirtana: (the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) and for their great devotion to the Lord. Both Srila Shyamananda Prabhu and Srila Rasikananda Prabhu had preached all over Orissa during this time converting hundreds of villages into followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They had a unique style of kirtan, quiet distiinct from the styles of their contemporaries practiced by Srila Srinivasa Acarya and Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura in Bengal and north-eastern India. His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja has said, “Syamananda Pandita used to preach in this area, Orissa. Jiva Goswami had sent three devotees to preach: Syamananda Prabhu, Narottama Dasa Thakura and Srinivasa Acarya. Srinivasa Acarya remained in Bengal. Narottama Dasa Thakura went to Assam—Manipur, that side of India, and Syamananda Pandita came to Orissa. Jiva Gosvami had said, “Go out and preach.”
This village of Gadai Giri has been flooded with the sound of kirtana since the time of Srila Syamananda Pandita. Great devotees have taken birth in the Giri dynasty only to satisfy the desire of the Supreme Lord so that He may hear the sweet kirtana from the Gadai Giri kirtaniyas. This Gadai Giri kirtana cannot be learned like a dramatic or musical performance; it is born into the Giri family. It is in their blood, and this can be seen by their great devotion to the Lord and heard in their wondrous kirtana. The Gadei Giri kirtaniyas unique style famously became known as odisi-kirtan. Dinabandhu Giri, like his father and grandfather before him, were all expert in odisi-kirtan. They performed kirtan all over Gadei Giri and the surrounding villages and region. The Giri family were often invited to teach kirtan, thus they became known as kirtan-gurus.
In the early days, Gopal Giri was asked by the King of Puri to bring the Gadei Giri kirtaniyas to perform for Lord Jagannath in Puri. When the King heard the kirtan of the Gadei Giri villagers he became very pleased. It is written in the madala-panji, the history book of the temple of Lord Jagannatha, that whenever the kirtan party from Gadei Giri comes they should be allowed to perform kirtan for Lord Jagannatha in the temple.
His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja (Braja Bandhu) is from the Giri family and grew up serving Sri Radha Gopaljiu in Gadei Giri. Kirtan was a daily engagment as a young child. His maternal uncles, Gopinatha and Jagannath Giri would perform kirtan, quiet often going to neighboring areas to chant. Sometimes travelling to distant villages and often performing non-stop kirtan for one or two days at a time. They were fond of singing traditional Orissian songs of Sri Krsna's pastimes, as well as, the songs of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura. Whenever possible, the young Braja Bhandhu would chant with them and by their association he became deeply attached to performing kirtan. Many years later, Srila Gour Govinda Swami would return to Gadei Giri often and especially for Sri Radhastami festival where the most wonderous kirtan would take place for Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu's pleasure.