Maharashtra is famous for its vibrant music and folk dances such as lavnis, gondhals, bharuds and povadas. The religious festivals of Maharashtra are great occasions for social entertainment. Various folk dances of Maharashtra that are performed during the festivals or special occasions, represent its rich cultural heritage.
Lavni is supposed to be the identity of Maharashtra. It is one of the most favourite dances of Maharashtra. It is a combination of traditional dance and song, and is performed on the enchanting rhythm of drum like instrument called as dholak. Attractive women wearing the nine-yard saris perform this dance. They take spiral movements on the pulsating beats of the traditional music.
The word Lavni is originated from ‘Lavanya’ which translates into beauty. Earlier, this art was associated with varied subjects and matters such as society, politics, religion, romance, etc. During the 18the and the 19th century, it became popular as a form of entertainment and morale booster for the tired soldiers in Maratha battle. There is a great contribution of many popular Marathi poets like Ramjoshi, Honaji Bala, Prabhakar, etc. in enhancing the popularity of this song and dance form.
This type of dance form is performed by the Dhangaras or shepherds in Sholapur district. The Dhangaras rear the goats and sheep, and earn their living through it. Their poetry is inspired by the surrounding evergreen trees, and is rendered in the form of couplets called as Ovi. These poems also narrate the stories related to the birth of their God ‘Biroba’.
The purpose of the Dhangari Gaja dance is to please their God and gain his blessings. The Dhangaras wear the traditional Marathi dresses such as angarakhas, dhoti, pheta and colourful handkerchiefs while performing the dance. The group of dancers dances on the rhythm of drums, surrounding the drum players.
Koli dance is among the most popular dances of Maharashtra. As the name suggests, it is related to the fisher folk of Maharashtra, who are called kolis in Marathi. These kolis are popular for their unique identity and lively dances. Their dances represent their occupation. This type of dance is represented by both men and women. While dancing, they are divided in the groups of two. These fishermen display the movements of waves and casting of the nets during their koli dance performance.
Povadas are the Marathi ballads that describe the events in the life of the great Maharashtrian king, Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji Maharaj holds a highly revered position among the Marathas. They remember their great hero through these Povadas.
Tamasha is one of the most popular forms of folk theater in Maharashtra. The word tamasha is derived from Persian language which means entertainment or fun. It is associated with Mahar and Kothari communities, and is a combination of various influences.