Music of Maharashtra
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, Dnyandev, Namdev, Tukaram, Jani and Soyara are important to mention. They believed in the fusion of Bhakti (devotion) with Dnyana (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. Palana 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.
Natya Sangeet is very popular in Maharashtra. It is sort of stage music that performs on the stage. It derives from the classical form of Indian music and presented on the semi-classical style. The tune is an amiable blend of deep classical strains and old-style musical patterns with recurrent rhythmic changes. Background instrumentation music rivets the composition completely in sync with the vocals. Narayanrao Rajhauns, popularly known as Bal Gandharava is the master of Natya Sangeet. An entire genre of Natya Sangeet rooted in Hindustani classical music is developed under him. Marathi musical theatre too is largely obliged to this maestro for his contribution in the field.
Poets of Maharashtra
Dnyandev, popularly known as Dnyaneshwara, his sister Muktabai and his two brothers were all poet-saints. His great work, the Dnyaneshwari is a monumental verse commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. He also wrote Anubhavamrita. Then came Namdev, who wrote in Hindi as well as in Marathi. Some of his Hindi songs were included in the Granth Sahib, the scripture of the Sikhs. Traveling all over Maharashtra with Sant Dnyaneshwar, Namdev taught people about deep devotion to God. Eknaath (1533-99), taught bhakti and jnana are like flower and fruit, inconceivable in separation. He succeeded the works of Dnyaneshwar and Namdev. Eknaath edited the text of the Dnyaneshwari as it became corrupted in coarse of time. He was both scholar and poet, and his verse exposition of chapter XI of the Bhagavata is as illuminating and as popular as the Dnyaneshwari. He also wrote religious songs like Abhangas, Owees and Bharuds.Tukaram's, (1608-'50) secret peculiarity lies in the rustic simplicity and utter frankness on self-revelation in his songs together with their profound understanding and ardent devotion. He wrote devotional songs like 'Abhangas' and performed 'Keertans'.