Dance forms of Maharashtra

Dance is the best medium through which you can express yourself.  Enriched with beautiful culture and traditions, each festive occasion in Maharashtra is accompanied by song, music and dance. Following are the various types of dance forms performed in the state:

Dhangari Gaja

The Marathi dance known as Dhangari Gaja is one of the most famous folk dances of Maharashtra. It is performed by the shepherds of Sholapur district who are well-known as Dhangars. Dhangari Gaja is a dance form performed to please their God Biruba and gain his blessings. The poetry on which the dance is based generally revolves around nature and its forms. The Dhangari Gaja dance is mainly performed by men wearing Pheta, Dhoti, Angarakha and colorful hankerchiefs.

Koli Dance

The folk dance of Maharashtra, Koli dance is performed by the Koli fishermen. The community is famous because of its unique identity and lively dance forms. The dance is performed by both men and women with the fishermen standing in two rows holding oars in their hands. The men portray the boat rowing movements and the women are present in the opposite rows with their arms linked and progressing towards men folk. The colorful dress, different identity and happy personality is reflected in this dance form. Men wear lungis and women wear green sarees. Koli dance actually illustrate the struggles and hardships faced by the fishing community in earning their livelihood.


It’s a religious folk dance performed on the day of Ekadashi, falling in the Karthik month. The dance form portrays the naughty and playful nature of Lord Krishna. The devotional dance is basically performed to the beats of a small drum known as “Dindi”. Dindi Dance, full of energy and life creates enthusiasm amongst the dancers performing to the melodious tune of the music. The performers form geometric patterns, holding a flag or the Monkey God in their hands.

Lavani Dance

The word Lavani is derived from the word Lavanya which means beauty. The dance is performed to the enchanting beats of Dholak by the women wearing 9-yard saree. It’s very surprising to see how these women, draped in 9 – yard saree manage to perform the dance movements with so much elegance. The dance was performed to entertain and motivate the tired soldiers of Maratha battle in the 18th and 19th century. But, today it is performed by people as a part of celebrations. Numerous poets including Honaji Bala, Ramjoshi and Prabhakar added to the name and fame of Lavani folk dance.


One of the dance form combining romantic music with the Lavani dance, Tamasha is said to be derived from the old form of Sanskrit drama: The Bhana and The Prahsana. In Persian language, word Tamasha means entertainment and fun. The thematic dance is based on the stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana. The two main forms of Tamasha dance are: one form is the balled singing & the other is the theatrical performance of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. Tuntuni, Manjeera, Halgi, Lejim, Dholki, Kade, Harmonium are the main musical instruments used in this dance form.


It’s a form of Marathi ballad, portraying the life of Shri Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The great Maratha ruler always held a respectful position in the hearts of Marathis. They seek to remember their leader and his glorious life through Povadas dance. Povadas are sung, along with movements on the sound of a drum, tuntune, cymbal and tambourine. The dance is performed by men who wear loose upper garment with a salwar, traditional turban and a colorful waistband tied with side knots. Because of the popularity of Povadas folk dance, social and political matters have also become a part of these performances.

Thus, the state of Maharashtra is prominent for its various dance forms and lively music which makes it a treasure house of rich culture.

Featured Photo: Shobana by Ramnath Bhat under CC BY 2.0

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