Friday, August 24, 2007

Dances of Maharashtra

Maharshtra, is a land of culture and traditions, where religious festivals are great occasions of social entertainment. Various folk dances are performed during festive or special occasions, representing rich its cultural heritage.


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.

Lavani is a musical discussion. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particulary performed to the enchanting beats of 'Dholak', an drum like instrument. Dance performed by attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. They are sung in a quick tempo.

Dhangari Gaja

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 is one of the most popular dance form of Maharashtra that derives its name from the fisher folk of Maharashtra - Kolis. These fishermen are famous for their distinct identity and lively dances. Their dances consists elements from their occupation that is fishing.

This dance form is performed by both men and women, who are divided in groups of two. These fishermen portray the movement of the rowing of a boat in this dance form. The dancers also portray the movements of waves and the casting of nets to catch the 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.

Religious & Festive Folk Dance

Folk dances generally evolve from the rural areas. In Maharashtra different folk dances are performed during festive occasions that represent their culture and merry-making.


Dindi is a folk dance of Maharashtra that is usually performed during Ekadashi day in the month of Kartik. This religious devotional dance describes the playful attitude of Lord Krishna. Dindi is a small drum, like a 'Tamate'. The dancers dance to the rhythm by surrounding the musicians, providing the essential musical background.

The musicians, comprising 'Mridangam' player and a vocalist, stand in the center and give the dancers the necessary musical background. Men and women folk perform the dance on the rhythmic music.


Kala is another folk dance form that describes the playful attitude of Lord Krishna. This dance form features a pot symbolizing fertility. The main attraction of this dance is the beat and the rhythm.

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