Maharashtra is a land of myriad cultures that are interspersed with several forms of music and dance. This folk art is not only entertaining but also reflects the age old traditions and beliefs of people from ancient times. Some of the dance and music forms are dedicated to special occasions like ceremonies, rituals, and harvesting seasons. The folk music of Maharashtra is particularly very diverse and rich. It showcases a rich cultural heritage that has remained part of History for centuries.
Various forms of folk music
Ovi : It is a song that is sung by women folk and describes the homes of their parents (maika) and husband (sasural). Suvasinsi, Palane and Artya are other folk songs that are related to the day to day life of people. Suvasini is sung at matrimonial ceremonies, Artya is sung to please deities and Palane is a song that is used to make a child sleep.
Bhajans and Kirtans : They are the form of community entertainment that is the most common type of folk music prevalent in Maharashtra. Bhajan Saptahs are celebrated throughout the week and are characterized by continuous chanting of bhajans. Kirtans are mostly accompanied with musical instruments like cymbals, mrindangam, dholkas, harmonium etc. The ceremony is headed by a priest who chants the songs and explains the meaning of hymns in between. Common people listen to him with devotion.
Povadas : They are the ballads sung to celebrate the heroic deeds of several heroes of Maharashtra. Some of the Povadas are based on the life of Shivaji who was a fearless Maratha ruler and fought many battles against Mughal emperors. Account of his heroism is explained in the famous povadas "Afzal Khanacha Vadh". The ballads sung in praise of Tanaji's victory over Singhgarh fort are also notable.
Gondhad : They are the variants of kirtans with the difference that they are performed by a group of musicians that are followed by common people. These are louder and sung with much fan-fare.
Tamasha : It is a popular dance-sing folk art that is very common. Earlier used for preaching the social messages, it has now become a source of entertainment for masses. Tamasha is usually accompanied with lavani songs that are based on the themes of love and romance. Several instruments like cymbals, tuntuna, dholki etc. are played while the drama is played by the artists. There are several forms of Tamasha, the two major ones are folk-based and dance and music based. The folk one is more philosophical while the other one is sometimes erotic and sensual.
Tamasha begins with arrival of dholki player and a vocalist. Beats are played on drums and singing begins by the chanting voice of the vocalist. Soon the stage seems flooded with more instrumentalists like manjira and tuntuna players. After an initial devotional song sung in praise of Lord Ganesha, main singer arrives at last. Most of the lavani songs are based on the life of Hindu deity Lord Krishna and his playful activities.
The folk music of Maharashtra is enriched with traditions. It is the part and parcel of common man's life that gets a chance to get away from the boring humdrum of daily life.