Lavani (Marathi: लावणी) is a genre of music popular in Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument. Lavani is noted for its powerful rhythm and erotic sentiment. Lavani has contributed substantially to the development of Marathi folk theatre. In Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh, it is performed by the female performers wearing nine-yard long saris. The songs are sung in a quick tempo.
History and genres
Traditionally, this genre of folk 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 socio-political satire. Originally, it was used as a form of entertainment and morale booster to the tired soldiers. Lavani Songs, which are sung along with dance, are usually naughty and erotic in nature. It is believed their origin is in the Prakrit Gathas collected by Hala. The Nirguni Lavani (philosophical) and the Shringari Lavani (sensual) are the two types. The devotional music of the Nirguni cult is popular all over Malwa.
"The main subject matter of the Lavani is the love between man and woman in various forms. Married wife's menstruation, sexual union between husband and Wife, their love, soldier's amorous exploits, the wife's bidding farewell to the husband who is going to join the war, pangs of separation, adulterous love - the intensity of adulterous passion, childbirth: these are all the different themes of the Lavani. The Lavani poet out-steps the limits of social decency and control when it comes to the depiction of sexual passion." K. Ayyappapanicker, Sahitya Akademi
Although beginnings of Lavani can be traced back to 1560s, it came into prominence during the later days of the Peshwa rule. Several celebrated Marathi Shahir poet-singers, which include Ram Joshi (1762–1812), Anant Fandi (1744-1819), Honaji Bala (1754-1844), Prabhakar (1769-1843) and Lok Shahir Annabhau Sathe (1 August 1920 - 18 July 1969) contributed significantly for the development of this genre of music. Honaji Bala introduced tabla in place of the traditional dholki. He also developed the baithakichi Lavani, a sub-genre, which is presented by the singer in the seated position.
Satyabhamabai Pandharpurkar and Yamunabai Waikar are the popular present day exponents of Lavani.
Shringar Lavani is mostly sung and danced on the stage by a female and written by male. Lavani can also be termed as a romantic song sung by lady who is waiting for her lover to accept her, who longs for his love. Many Lavani dancers are from some castes of Maharashtra like Mahar Kolhati, Kumbhar, and Matang.
Marathi films played an important role in making Lavani genre accessible to masses. Movies such as Pinjara and Natarang not only attempted to blend traditional music with social messages but also helped portray Lavani world in positive light.
In Tamil Nadu, at the end of the Lavani performance, a replica of Manmatha's mount is burnt.
- Thielemann, Selina (2000). The Music of South Asia. New Delhi: A. P. H. Publishing Corp. p. 521. ISBN 978-81-7648-057-4.
- The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj To Jyoti), Volume 2 By Amaresh Datta,p 1304
- The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj To Jyoti), Volume 2 By Amaresh Datta, p 1304
- History of Indian theatre, Volume 2, By Manohar Laxman Varadpande, p 164
- Medieval Indian literature: an anthology, Volume 3 By K. Ayyappapanicker, Sahitya Akademi, p 375
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