Marathi Lavani

Marathi Lavni or Lavani (also known as sangeet bari) comes from the Sanskrit word Lavanya, which means beauty. Though Lavani is known today by its titillating lyrics superimposed with double meanings and attractive dance moves, few know that it developed from the devotional music customs of Maharashtra. A combination of shringar rasa and bhakti makes Lavani unique. This form of music became fashionable during the Mughal area. The Mughal armies were amused by this dance in areas that were under invasion or influence of the north. That also explains the influence of Kathak on Lavni.

Lavani is also performed by Dhangars or sheepherders of Sholapur district of Maharashtra. The poems are composed by the Dhangras acquires its inspiration by nature consisting of stories of the birth of their diety, Biruba. In these Lavani songs, chants are used to fill the gaps between words within the melodious sounds. The maanch or the stage is decorated for the performance of the Lavani and goes on for the entire night. At the end of the Lavani performance, a replica of Manmathas mount is burnt.

It was this art of seduction through dances and musicals that found true patronage with the Peshwas in the 18th century. That was when attractive dancing women could make the rich and the elite drool at their feet. Many historians are of the view that the later Peshwas’ love of Lavani played an important role in ending the Maratha Empire in 1818. However, Lavni continued with the masses. Poets and shahirs continued to compose some of the most versatile Lavnis with everyday humour and wit.

The height period for Lavni finished with the decline of the Peshwas in the early 19th century. With imperial support over, in the following century Lavni moved to the “kothas” (brothels) in the Marathwada and Pune regions. Banished by the civilized and wealthy, it was no longer conceived honorable to be a Lavni lover. 
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Design by Marathi songs | Concept by Tamil Songs | Shalu Sharma