It is said that dance is one of the best mediums through which you can express yourself. So, what better way to know about the culture of the state than through exploring its various dance forms. The people of Maharashtra celebrate a large number of fairs and festivals and dancing, as a part of the celebration, is a feature that is common in almost all of them. Apart from that, there are a number of special occasions, such as weddings, where dance makes a part of the festivity. In this article, we have provided information on the most popular folk dances of the state.
Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particulary performed to the enchanting beats of 'Dholak', an drum like instrument. This dance is performed by attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. The women gyrate on the pulsating beats of traditional music.
The word Lavani originates from "Lavanya", meaning beauty. Earlier, this art form dealt with different and varied subject matters such as society, religion, politics, romance, etc. Lavani was used as a form of entertainment and morale booster to the tired soldiers during the 18th and 19th century Maratha battle. Many famous Marathi poets like Honaji Bala, Ramjoshi, Prabhakar, etc. contributed to the popularity of Lavani.
This particular dance form is performed by Dhangars or shepherds of Sholapur district of Maharashtra. The Dhangars earn their living by rearing sheep and goats. Their poetry is mainly inspired by the evergreen trees all around. The poetry is in a form called 'Ovi' which is made up of couplets. These poems also contain tales of the birth of their God "Biruba", in simple and basic lines.
The Dhangari Gaja Dance is performed to please their God for his blessings. The traditional Marathi dresses that Dhangar dancers wear are, Dhoti, Angarakha, Pheta and a colorful handkerchiefs. The group of dancers surround the drum players and move at the rhythm.
Povadas are Marathi ballads, describing the events in the life of the great Maharashtrian leader, Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He holds a highly respected position in the hearts the people of Maharashtra. Through these ballads they remember Shivaji, a great hero of his time.
Koli Dance, as the name suggests, is performed by the fishermen of Maharashtra - known as Kolis. Their colorful attire, cheerful personality and distinct identity are very much reflected in their dance form too. The participants of this dance comprise of both men and women, who are divided into two separate groups. One of the most popular movements in the Koli dance is that of the hand, as it moves while rowing a boat. The other movements of the dance include the movements of waves and the casting of nets to catch fish.
Tamasha is one of the most important form of folk theater of Maharashtra. The word Tamasha is Persian and means fun or entertainment. This form is a blend of several different influences. Some scholars believe that this form of theater has been inspired by two forms of Sanskrit drama - the "Prahsana" and the "Bhana". This dance form developed in 16th century. The love songs ('Lavanis') are the heart of Tamasha and are very popular. Instruments used are the Dholki drum, 'Tuntuni' (a single string instrument), 'Manjeera' cymbals, 'Daf' (a tambourine-like instrument with a single leather surface), 'Halgi' (smaller Daf), the metal triangle called 'Kade', the 'Lejim' (an instrument with a jangling sound), the Harmonium and 'Ghunghroos' (ankle bells). Tamasha is associated with two of the communities of Maharashtra, they are Kolhati and Mahar.
Dindi is another folk dance of Maharashtra, which is performed on the Ekadshi day of the Hindu month of Kartik. The dance is based on Lord Krishna and his naughty, playful nature. It is basically a devotional dance, performed to the beats of Dindi, a small drum. Dancers surround the musicians while performing the dance steps.