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A Bengali performance form, originating in the 16th century ce and still very popular, involving a troupe of singers and drummers in the retelling, through song, dance, and dramatic movement, of stories about the līlā of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā, as well as episodes from the life of Caitanya. The performance consists essentially of settings of 15th–18th century Vaiṣṇava bhakti lyrics, mainly in Bengali, designed to induce a state of aesthetic delight (rasa) in the audience. The popularity of līlākīrtana across religious traditions, and the suspension of the usual caste and gender distinctions during its performance, have been seen as major factors in the social integration and democratization of Bengali society. See also kīrtan(a).

Subjects: Hinduism.

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