Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Comparative study of Lavani and Other Folk Dances of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is a state rich in culture and tradition.Apart from lavani there are a number of other folk dances in Maharashtra, such as Dhangari Gaja, Koli, Dindi, Kala, Povodas etc. Though all the Dance forms belong to the same state, these forms are easily distinguishable from each other. Each dance form rich and vibrant in its movements, costumes and expression.

Every Community in Maharashtra has its own fully developed system of music, art and dance. If Lavani belongs to Mahar and Matang community, meant for the entertainment of tired soldiers, Dhangri Gaja belongs to the shepherd community or Dhangars, Koli belongs uniquely to the community of fishermen .

However each dance form is one way or the other is dedicated to the praise of God or some great leader of past. Povodas is the Ballads of Maharashtra praising the adventurous exploits and leadership skills of the great Maratha leader Chatrapati Shivaji. Dindi is a religious Dance narrating the playful behaviour of lord Krishna. Kala is yet another form revelling the misheives and miracles of lord Krishna. But Lavani is the odd one out, as it neither sings of the greatness of any celebrated hero of past nor it is devoted to the praise of the Gods. The subject matter of Lavani is purely amorous. Standing out of the rest, Lavani is an expression of women's sexuality. It deals with topics such as sexual union between lovers, pangs of separation, love between husband and wife, amorous adventures of soldiers etc.Changes have come over time, Lavani today is no more confined to the motifs and themes of love and sex. contemporary lavani dancers have taken up serious social issues like dowry, infanticide, domestic violence, rape and molestation. And this has been possible only because of the flexibility of themes that Lavani offers compared to the rest of the other folk forms of Maharashtra.

Lavani Schools in India

With the presentation of lavani in the Bollywood movies the educated class have started growing a new interest in lavani. There is a growing tendency in middle-class families to teach lavani to their children. New dance schools teaching lavani have also come up.These schools are located not only in Maharashtra, but also in other states. The reach of the dance schools have expanded beyond the state and the Marathi community. The lavani dance schools have been getting students from all over India. A few lavani dance schools are as follows:

         Pahar Ganj, New Delhi

        2.Shriyan's Dance Classes
         Juhu Versova Link Road,
         Andheri West,Mumbai

       3.Spin Academy Jazzercise and Dance Classes
         Sarkhej Gandhinagar Highway,

      4.Poojan Dance Classes
        Paldi, Ahmedabad

      5.Sargam Musical Institute and Classes
         Kharjana Road, Indore

     6.Jhankar Dance Classes
        Vile Parle Road West, Mumbai

    7.Inspiration Dance Classes
       Pitam Pura, Delhi


Musical instruments of Lavani

Lavani is the most famous and thrilling dance of Maharastra. It is one of the most rythmic dances of India. The word 'lavani' originated from Lavanya meaning beauty. The word Lavani itself implies that the dance would be performed by beautiful women wearing nauvavari sarees. A dominating feature of this dance is the rythmic movements of the dance form.The lavani dance is performed with Lavani dance with a number of musical instruments playing in the background.

The women dance on the beats of Dholaki(a percussion instrument), apart from that there is Manjeera,(cymbals), Tuntuni(a single string instrument), Daf(a tambourine like instrument with a single leather surface) and Harmonium. The background music is supported by Ghungroos or ankle bells that are tied to the ankles of the dancers which not only serve as an ornament but also a musical instrument. With every spin these bells make a sound with dynamic tranquilizing power. 

Lavani in Bollywood

Lavani, a Maharashtrian folk form has been a favourite with the Bollywood directors for a long time. The Bollywood divas has been often noticed swaying sensuously with lavani songs. The audience has also loved the presentation of lavani dance in Hindi movies. Some famous lavani dance in Hindi movies are as follows:

1. Mungda: This song from the movie 'Inkaar' has been loved a lot by the audience back in 1978 to till date.  The song features Helen, the then Cabaret queen of Bollywood. The dance served  not only as a twist of taste to the audience then but also provided a scope to Helen to try something out of her regular zone.

2.Humko Ajkal Hai: This song featuring Madhuri Dixit from the movie 'Sailab' made full exploitation of the seductive quality of lavani. The dance number is till date loved by the viewers.

3.Chikni Chameli: The 2012 movie Agneepath also makes good use of the folk form in the song Chikni Chameli.

4.Sava Dollar: This dance number featuring Rani Mukherjee from the movie 'Aiyaa' mesmarised the audience though the movie did not do well in box office.

5.Mala Jau De: Inspired by Madhuri Dixit. Vidya Balan received much applaud for her lavani act Mala jau de in the movie 'Ferrari ki Savari'. Bringing in the cultural essence of Maharashtra Vidya has done justice to the song.

6.Ata Majhi Satakli: After Katrina Kaif and Madhuri Dixit trying their hands on Lavani, kareena Kapoor is the latest one on the list.she sets the silver screen on fire with her lavani number Ata Majhi Satakli in Singham returns.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Career in Lavani

Lavani has been traditionally performed by the lower caste women, namely Mahar, Matang and Kolhati. Lavni received royal patronage during the seventeenth century Peshwa rule. Though the women performed in royal courts, the stigmatization of being courtesan never left them.

But today lavani is being accepted well amongst the educated classes of Maharashtra, other states of India as well as abroad. With representation of Lavani in Bollywood movies and Marathi movies, the appeal of Lavani  have expanded .Lavani is no longer viewed as a raw expression of sexuality and pungent social, political and religious satire meant for the entertainment of tired soldiers performed by lower caste women.

Lavani offers a number of career options today which have increased the popularity of the dance form among today's women. The career opportunities offered by lavani are:

  • Choreography in Bollywood and Theatres
  • Career as a dancer
  • Dance teacher 

With the increase in popularity of lavani and presentation of lavani dance pieces in Bollywood movies(Mungda in Inkaar) and theatres the scope for career as choreographer for the lavani dancer is ever expanding.

The representation of Lavani in the Hindi movies have taken lavani beyond the boundary of  Maharashtra to audience all over India. Lavani have been appretiated by the people outside Maharashtra. There has been an incresing demand for Lavani performances from all around India and abroad. Therefore, career as a lavani dancer is a flourishing one.

If not a choreographer in Bollywood or a celebrated dancer, anyone convergent in the folk form can run a dance school and expect a considerable number of students as the appeal and popularity of Lavani is growing among the middle class. More and more girls from the middle class households are taking to the dance form.

Social Status of Lavani Dancers

Lavani has been performed traditionally by the lower caste women, namely Mahar, Matang and Kolhati. Lavani received royal patronage during the seventeenth century Peshwa rule. Though the women performed  in royal courts, The stigmatization of being courtesan never left them.

Lavani began as an expression of women's sexuality and their innermost thoughts,feelings and desires, but quickly became the basis for their mrginalization by the society. It became a tool for controlling the sexuality of the lower caste women, and created a vicious cycle for the performers.For example the women from the Kolhati community had to perform lavani through generations as they were viewed stigmatically by the society as courtesans and no more accepted in to any other profession.

by the turn of the twentieth century, the lavani dancers were earning their livelihood by performing raunchier versions of their art to satisfy the taste of Hindi and Marathi  movie connoisseur, further denigrating the status of lower caste lavani performers.

Subject Matter of Lavani

The Lavani dance is a blend of dance and song, being performed with the beats of 'dholak', an instrument similar to drum. The word Lavani originated from 'lavanya' meaning beauty.

Lavani is a ballad of love, a bold portrayal of love. The main subject matter of lavani is the love between man and woman in various forms, sexual union between lovers, mensturation of wife, love between husband and wife, wife's bidding farewell to the husband who is going to war, pangs of separation, adulturous love,- the intensity of adulturous passion, sorrows of a childless women, childbirth, amorous adventures of soldiers, these were different themes of lavani.

The lavani poet steps out of the limits of social decency and control when it comes to the depiction of sexual passion. A sexually excited women describing her own erotic passion unhesitatingly is a somewhat unnatural event, but was meant to entertain the male audience of the times. Lavani poetry does not follow the rules of good taste. Lavani also dealt with subject matters of society, politics and religion, in a satirical mode.

With the passage of time, changes came over the themes that lavani dealt with. Contemporary lavani deals with subjects like birth control, domestic violence, family planning, women's health, rape and molestation,

Lavani today is no more limited to the narration of love between man and women.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Lavani Costume

The Lavani dancers are dressed in bright coloured sarees and bedecked in golden jewellery, Lavani dancers get dressed gorgeously. The saree form a quintessential part of each Lavani performance. The saree worn by the performers is longer than the usual and is called a nauvari, which is wrapped around in a Kashta drape. 

A nauvari saree measures nine yards in length. The unique Kasta drape allows for a greater freedom of movement. The kasta drape is similar in style to the male dhoti.

Aside from the saree, lavani performers also tie their hair back in bun called a juda or ambada. The performers may also choose to wear a gajra which is a flower garland for the hair. Performers also wear heavy jewellery that includes necklace, earring, a nose ring called nath and bangles. They also wear a  kamarpatta which is a belt tied around the waist.

On their feet, performers wear payal or ghungroo which not only looks beautiful, but can also be considered a musical instrument in its own right. Lavani performers also put a bindi on their forehead.

Types of Lavani

Traditionally the Lavani dance deals with different and varied subject matters such as society, religion, politics and romance. The songs in Lavani are mostly erotic in sentiment and the dialogues tend to be pungent in sociopolitical satire. Lavani songs  which are sung along with dance are usually naughty and erotic in nature. It is beleived their origin is in the Prakrit Gathas collected by Hala.

Based on content Lavani can be divided in to two subtypes -

  • Nirguni Lavani
  • Shringari Lavani
The Nirguni Lavani is of Philosophical nature, The devotional music of Nirguni cult is popular all over Malwa.

The Shringari Lavani is of a sensuous and erotic nature.

Further, Lavani developed in to two distinct performances -

  • Phadachi Lavani
  • Baithakichi Lavani

The Lavani sung and enacted in a public performance before a large audience in a theatrical atmosphere is called Phadachi Lavani.

When Lavani is sung in a closed chamber for a private and selected audience by a girl sitting before the audience by a girl sitting before the audience it is called Baithakaichi Lavani.

Another form of Lavani that developed over the time is Sangeet bari Lavani. Sangeetbari continues to be performed privately in small theatres. The women dance to any song their customers request in the long hour sessions. The songs can be in Hindi, Marathi,or even Kannada in the southern part of Maharashtra.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Origin of Lavani

Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance which is performed to the beats of dholaki(a pecussion instrument). Lavani is noted for its powerful rythm. The word 'lavani' originates from 'lavanya' meaning beauty.

Usually Lavani dance form is performed by dhangars or shepherds of sholapur district of Maharashtra.
Long back in history Maharashtra was a war ridden kingdom, and Lavani strted as a mode of entertainment and morale booster to the tired soldiers. The dance form reached the peak of popularity during the Peshwai rule(18th and 19th century). The folk form was given royal patronage.

Lavani deals with different and varied subject matters such as society, religion, politics and romance. The songs in Lavani are erotic in sentiment. Lavani is classified in to two subtypes - Nirguni Lavani(philosophical) and Shringari Lavani(sensual).

Lavani developed in to two distinct performances, namely Phadachi Lavani and Baithakaichi Lavani. The lavani sung and enacted in a public performance before a large audience in a theatrical atmosphere is called Phadachi Lavani.
When Lavani is sung in a closed chamber for selected audience it is called Baithakaichi Lavani.

The Lavani dancers belong mostly from the castes of Maharashtra like Mahar kohlati and Matang.The great Marathi poets like Honaji Bala, Ramjoshi, Prabhakar, etc. took Lavani to a new height. Today Lavani song and dance have found a place in the Marathi as well as Hindi films.