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 comprise of the elements of both, a traditional song and a folk
dance. The dance is performed to the beats of 'Dholak', a drum like
instrument, mainly by women. It is a wonder how these women, being
draped in heavy nine-yard saris, manage to perform the dance movements
with such elegance. In the earliest days, the dance form was used to
highlight the various aspects of the society like religion, politics,
romance, etc. In the 18th and 19th century, it came to be performed to
entertain as well as motivate the tired soldiers of Maratha battle.
Today, it is performed by people as a part of celebrations.
Dhangars, the community of shepherds belonging to the Sholapur district
of Maharashtra, are known for performing the Dhangari Gaja dance. Since
their life mainly revolves around nature and its various forms, their
poetry on which the dance is based reflects the same. It is made up of
couplets, some of which contain the tales of the birth of their God
'Biruba', and is known as 'Ovi'. The main motive behind the performance
of this dance is to appease the Gods. The dancers in Dhangari Gaja are
men, wearing Dhoti, Angarakha, Pheta and colorful handkerchiefs,
performing to the beats of drums.
Povadas is mainly a form of ballad, which revolves around the incidents
surrounding the life of the great Maharashtrian leader, Chhatrapati
Shivaji Maharaj. The great ruler has always held a reverential position
in the hearts of the Marathi people and even through these ballads; they
seek to remember the great leader and his glorious life.
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, the word meaning fun or entertainment, is the name given to
the folk theater of Maharashtra. The dance form seems to have been
influenced by a number of dance forms. Some scholars also believe it to
reflect "Prahsana" and "Bhana" forms of Sanskrit
drama. Tamasha is mainly performed on love songs known as 'Lavanis'. The
main instruments used for providing betas are Dholki drum, 'Tuntuni' (a
single string instrument), 'Manjeera' cymbals, 'Daf' (a tambourine-like
instrument), 'Halgi' (smaller Daf), 'Kade' (a metal triangle), 'Lejim'
(an instrument with a jangling sound), Harmonium & 'Ghunghroos'
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.
Another dance form that is devoted to Lord Krishna is Kala. It is also
based on the mischievous and teasing attitude of the Lord. Dancers also
make use of a prop while dancing, which is nothing but a pot. This pot
is believed to symbolize fertility. The beat and the rhythm of the Kala
dance are what attract viewers to its performance.