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The Folk Art of Maharashtra
Folk Art is a priceless treasure preserved by Maharashtra. Folk arts originated in rural Maharashtra as a means of entertainment and education. A few of the folk arts are also related to the spiritual and religious needs of the society. In the absence of literacy and basic education, these folk arts educated the financially and physically weak society. Besides giving information on medicines for illnesses and diseases, they also increased the zest for living through faith and devotion.
These folk arts, which originated primarily for the purpose of education, are not necessarily only for the rural folk but also for the modernized and urbanized people who have lost touch with the Marathi culture.
The folk arts of Maharashtra are the backbone of its cultural ethos. They have been responsible for every step of the way from education to entertainment in giving shape to the Maharashtrian way of thinking. Thus, we can say that Maharashtra is a melting pot of several different, contradictory yet harmonious identities. One might not confide problems with the housewife next door, but the kadaklaxmi coming once a year providing solutions to all problems and medicines for illnesses is a definite salve to all ails. You won’t stand someone walking through your field of Sorghum but would happily give a handful of the same to the Vasudeo who visits you every morning. We don’t know the name of our own great grandfather but the Helvi coming to the village once a year will give you all details including the address of your great grandfather’s great grandfather. A real policeman never visits the village but a mimic in the disguise of a policeman coming once a year has the children hiding with fear behind large baskets. Marriages are made in heaven, but the wedded life does not begin till the Gondhali performs the Gondhal. Offerings are made to God to bless one with a child, but once it is born, it is given away to the deity in God’s name. Half the village is busy in listening to the keertan and the other half is busy enjoying the tamasha. Some folks go the spiritual way, while some sacrifice goats in the name of God and eat the meat themselves.
Whatever one chooses to call these happy, varied and contradictory people of Maharashtra, one can’t escape the fact that they are definitely interesting!
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