Maharashtra is a region as diverse and rich in geography, biology and people and customs, naturally has a long and varied tradition of art and crafts. Maharashtra is the proud home to various different artistic techniques which have flourished under the many rulers including the Marathas, the Mughals and the British. From the paintings at Ajanta, so many hundreds of years ago, to today’s Warli paintings, Maharashtra’s ties with the Arts have always remained strong and nurturing.
The Marathi people are the majority throughout most of the areas of the state. While there are other people speaking different languages, Hindi, Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Gujarati, Marwari, etc.
The cuisine of Maharashtra varies according to the region of Maharashtra. The people of the Konkan region have a chiefly rice based diet with fish being a major component, due the close proximity to the sea. In eastern Maharashtra, the diet is based more on wheat, jowar and bajra. Puran Poli, Bakarwadi, plain simple Varan Bhat (a dish cooked with plain rice and curry), and Modak are a few dishes to name. Chicken and mutton are also widely used for a variety of cuisines. Kolhapuri Mutton is a dish famous for its peculiar spicy nature.
Traditionally, the Maharashtrian woman wears a nine-yard sari known as navwadi, and the men are characterised by colourful turbans or phetas. Maharashtra as a region has a strong textile history and has several different types of saris or materials that a typical of a particular part or region, such as Kolhapur , Pune and Paithan. Jewellery patterns of the Marathas and the Peshwas are still very much in vogue. The Maharashtrian woman loves to wear her malas and hars or necklaces. A favourite with all, is the nose ring or nath , usually with pearls and red and white stones.
Fairs and Festivals
Hindus in Maharashtra follow the Shalivahana Saka era calendar. Ganeshotsav is one of the biggest festival of Maharashtra which is celebrated with much reverence and festivity throughout the state and has since some time become popular all over the country. The festival which continues over ten days is in honour of Ganesha, the deva (like guardian angel) of learning and knowledge under the one supreme lord.
The other festivals celebrated on the large scale are Makar Sakranti, Gudi Padwa, Vijayadashami or Dasara, Holi, Diwali, Eid (Ramzan Eid).
Music and Dance
Maharashtra, like other states of India, has its own folk music. The folk music viz. Gondhal Lavani, Bharud and Powada are popular especially in rural areas, while the common forms of music from the Hindi and Marathi film industry are favoured in urban areas.
The earliest instances of Marathi literature is by Sant Jnyaneshwar with his Bhawarthadeepika (popularly known as Jnyaneshwari). The compositions written during this period are spiritually inclined. The other compositions are by Sant Tukaram, Sant Namdev, and Sant Gora Kumbhar. The compositions are mostly in poetic form, which are called bhajans. These bhajans by saints are popular and part of day to day life. The modern Marathi literature has been enriched by famous poets and authors like P. L. Deshpande, Kusumagraj, Prahlad Keshav Atre and Vyankatesh Madgulkar. This literature has been passed on to the next generations through the medium of large numbers of books that are published every year in Marathi.
Art and crafts
The Warlis are tribal people who live in the Thane district, north of Mumbai. Traditionally, Warli paintings or chawk were made by women during wedding rituals. These sacred pictographs used rice paste and straw, which was then smeared on the walls of their modest huts. The main figure was of Palghat, the goddess of trees and plants, symbolising creative energy.
Aurangabad is famous for Mashru and Himru fabrics made of cotton and silk with the luster of satin. Himru is an age-old weaving craft, and was originally known as kum khuab. Bidri ware, another one of Aurangabad’s ancient crafts, is made from a combination of zinc and copper. It usually involves intricate workmanship of pure silver, either embossed, overlaid or inlaid on the metal surface. Originally, Bidri ware items were used as hookahs or paan daans.
Kolhapur is well known for its textiles and cottons, but it is of course most famous for its hand-made leather sandals or chappals . These leather sandals are very popular the world over, and their simple styles have made them popular.