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Lavani (Folk Dance of Maharashtra)

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About Lavani Dance

Lavani Dance is a popular music genre in Maharashtra which is a seamless blend of age-old music and dance and basically performs to the Dholki beats, a famous percussion instrument.

Lavani is most recognizable for its impressive rhythm and has been able to substantially contribute to the development of Maharashtra folk theatre.

Lavani, however, is performed by female folks, clad in nine-yard elongated saris to the quick tempo songs, in the region of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

What does Lavani actually mean?

Lavani, according to time-worn tradition is derived from ‘Lavanya’ which refers to beauty. However, in another classic tradition, Lavanya is derived from the Marathi word- lavane.

The History of Lavani

According to deep-rooted traditions, the folk dance genre deals with myriad subjects; society, politics and religion for instance. The Lavani songs are mainly erotic in nature, dialogues, and sentiments that tend to get pungent in the satire of socio-political.

Initially, the song was used as memorable booster and entertainment for the tired and exhausted soldiers. The Lavani songs are basically believed to be erotic and naughty in characteristic and is said to have originated from the Hala’s Prakrit Gathas.

What are the two types of Lavani?

 There are two main types of Lavani:

  • The Nirguni Lavani (Philosophical)
  • Shringari Lavani (Sensual)

The Performance

Lavani is said to have developed into two different performances:

  • Bhaithakichi Lavani
  • Phadachi Lavani

Phadhachi Lavani

When Lavani is enacted and sung as part of public performance within the atmosphere of a theatre, it is known as Phadachi Lavani.

Bhaitakichi Lavani

When Lavani is sung and performed within a private ambiance for selected and private guests by a lone girl sitting affront the audience, it is known as Bhaithakichi Lavani.

Costumes worn

The ladies performers clad themselves in a nine-yard long sari and tie their hair to a bun. They accessorize well with Kamar Patta, necklace, payels, and bangles, followed by a dark red color bindi on their forehead. The sari they usually wear during Lavani is known as Nauvari.

Also, there are many numbers of men who dance Lavani along with the women and are called as nat (male dancers) basically the kinnars. The dancers of Lavani belong to castes of Maharashtra like Matang and Mahar Kolhati.

Folk dances in Maharashtra combine singing and dance. The traditional dance RadhaNach is a popular example. The dance is performed with simple body movements and portrays a poem. The main dancer recites a line from the poem and the other dancers repeat the lines. The dance has beautiful costumes and beats.

This dance is performed by Kolis in Maharashtra. It depicts the lifestyle of fishermen. It is performed by both men and women and is closely linked to nature. The movement of the Kolis is synchronized with the movement of the nets. The dance is a part of their daily life.

Performing this dance is a great way to experience Maharashtra’s rich cultural heritage. Most of the dances are performed during festivals and festive celebrations. Some of these celebrations are religious and celebrate different gods or deities. The Dindi folk dance is performed on the Ekadashi day of Kartik month. The dancers perform the dance steps while surrounded by musicians.

Another form of folk dance in Maharashtra is the Lavani dance. It is a sensual dance accompanied by music played on a dholki drum. It is performed by beautiful women wearing nine-yard saris. The dancers portray various aspects of society. This dance was originally created to entertain Maratha soldiers in the 18th century and is still popular today.


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