Folk Songs of Maharastra

Folk Songs of Maharastra

  • Every festive occasion is accompanied by song, music and dance in Maharashtra.
  • Talking about the music of Maharashtra won’t complete without the mention of Natya Sangeet, numerous folk songs and its great saint poets.
  • Although music in Maharashtra like Marathi literature has an ancient tradition, the popularity of classical music in Maharashtra began through Gwalior.
  • Miraj town of Sangli district is known as the ‘town of music’.
  • The world famous Indian musical instrument the Sitar is made in this town.
  • Folk songs are an inseparable part of the daily lives of the rural Maharashtra.
  • Folk forms like lavani, nautanki and tamasha music are very famous.
  • However, a lot of these art forms are dying out as performers are finding it difficult to sustain.
  • Amongst the saint poets, Jnandev, Namdev, Tukaram, Jani and Soyara are imorptant to mention.
  • They believed in the fusion of Bhakti (devotion) with Jnana (knowledge).
  • They taught to worship and merge into oneness with the God.
  • Lavani and Povada are the most popular folk songs that entertain the village-folks in Maharashtra.
  • Bhaleri, a folk-song is sung to cheer the farmers working in the field. They also sing special songs during the harvesting time.
  • Village women of Maharashtra sing a folk song called owi at dawn describing maika, mother’s home and sasural, husband’s home.
  • Suvasinis sing folk songs at the halad and ghana ceremonies in a marriage.
  • Palane is a lullaby in Maharashtra to put a child to sleep.
  • Artya is the folk song that appeases the wrath of deities to protect from diseases like smallpox, plague etc.
  • Bhajan, Bharud, Gondhal, Kirtan, Lalita, Abhangas and Tumbadi singing are the other forms of community entertainments based on folksongs found in Maharashtra.
  • Gondhal, Lalita, Lavani, Povadas and Tamasha are the other forms of entertainment that involves folk music in Maharashtra.

Musical Instruments used during singing

  • Music is an important component of the performing arts like dance and drama, and of rituals. Each community has its own style of music and tradition of songs.
  • There are essentially two ways to make music:
  1. With the human voice
  2. With an instrument.
  • The musical instruments are classified on the basis of the scientific principle used to create the sound they make. They are briefly described below.
  1. Percussion Instruments: These instruments are struck to produce sound. Often these are used to produce the taal or beat and do not produce all the musical note or cymbals.
  2. Wind Instruments: These need air to flow through them to produce soundóbansuri or flute.
  3. String Instruments: These are instruments that use one or many tightly tied strings that when struck vibrate to create soundóthe veena or ektara.
  4. Drums: A drum is made of a membrane stretched across a hollow frame and played by striking the dholak or mridangam.Folk Songs of Maharastra

Basic/General Features of Folk Music across India as well as Maharashtra

  • India has a very rich and varied tradition of folk music.
  • The extreme diversity in rural culture spawns endless varieties of folk styles.
  • Each region has its own particular approach and repertoire.
  • There is a propensity to lump folk music along with tribal music, but strictly speaking this is not correct.
  • Where folk music is a rustic reflection of Indian society at large, tribal music often reflects cultures that are very different.
  • Some of these tribal cultures are throwbacks to society as it was thousands of years ago.
  • Folk and tribal music is not taught in the same way that Indian classical music is taught.
  • There are no formal periods of apprenticeship where the student is able to devote their entire time to learning music; the economic realities of rural life do not permit this.
  • Folk musicians must still attend to their normal duties of farming, hunting, or whatever their chosen occupation is.
  • Folk music is learned almost as if by osmosis.
  • From childhood, the music is heard and imbibed as a simple matter of life.
  • There are many public activities that allow the villagers to practice their musical skills.
  • Folk music is an indispensable part of functions such as weddings, births and engagements.
  • There is a vast body of songs for each occasion.
  • There are also songs associated with harvesting and planting.
  • In these activities, the villagers routinely sing of their fears, hopes and aspirations.
  • Folk music is also used for education.
  • There is a ceremony when a girl has her first period.
  • In this function, the elderly women in the village gather at the house (men are excluded), the girl is given her first langa and woni (the half sari which is worn by unmarried women), rich food and other presents.
  • At this time, the women sing songs that are extremely bawdy.
  • To an outsider, this would seem out of character for obviously respectable community members.
  • However, the purpose of such songs is to provide the girl’s first instructions on her emerging womanhood and what her future duties as a wife will be.


  • Tamasha,” a Natyakala folk form, is a very popular form in Maharashtra.
  • The traditional folk forms in Maharashtra are identical to one another.
  • Historically also Tamasha Theatre has adopted several art forms.
  • Though it has adopted several art forms, it retained its individuality m several ways Gondhal, Vaghya Murali Ka Jagaran, Lalit, Dashavatar, Dhandar were the traditional art forms of Maharashtra as well as folk art forms of Maharashtra in olden days.
  • These art forms connected with spirituality and also entertained the public.
  • These forms grabbed the attention of the public through their good presentation and through their language.
  • The forms were very famous and gained popularity with the public The dance form of Vaghya Muraii, the presentation of story in Gondhal attracts the public.
  • Lalit is a form connected with Bhajans Dashavatar is an art form which is a mixture of dance, song and story presentation.
  • All the above forms are an integral part of Tamasha.
  • But the spirituality shown in other forms could not appear in Tamasha.
  • Hence showing some sort of variety In Tamasha, to show a spiritual sense, they have created two characters Gan and Goulan Tamasha form was started in the villages and were performed during the fairs and festival seasons.
  • Tamasha form was formed by adopting various folk art forms of Maharashtra.
  • Tamasha has its own recognition in the society like other forms of Maharashtra.
  • The main cause for the popularity of Tamasha is that it has all the Rasas in the presentation such as hasya rasa, etc


  • The famous Shahir, Dasgunji, wrote this lavni which is based on humour.
  • Lavani is a popular folk form of Maharashtra.
  • Traditionally, the songs are sung by female artists, but male artists may occasionally sing Lavanis.
  • The dance format associated with Lavaniis known as Tamasha.



  • Kalgi-tura poetry related to Goulans was most popular in Maharashtra.
  • In this poetry, the singing of Goulans exists.
  • This tradition can be seen in West Maharashtra, Khandesh and in Marathwada In Goulan, the description of romance between Radha and Krishna is described, which is very popular.
  • All the Saints like Gnaneshwar, Tukaram, Namdev etc wrote Goulani Kalgi-tura bhakti literature Kalgi-tura can be treated as the first form of Tamasha and later on the Tamasha has been developed.
  • Kalgi-tura teams question each other and this questioning depends on the talent of the particular parties.
  • Kalgi-tura poetry and Tamasha literature have a very close resemblance Traditional forms of Tamasha were the inventions of Kalgi-tura poetry In Kalgi-tura lavni, there are two parts one is spiritual (bhakti) and the other is story-based lavn.

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