Maharashtra – A Colossal Mosaic of People
Maharashtra forms a colossal mosaic of people from different cultures and yet, they are perfectly blended to give the state it’s identity. The Marathas take great pride in their language, culture, cuisine and festivals. Established by Shivaji, the Maratha Empire boasts of a rich heritage and a warfare dignity. The Parsis, the Jains, the Christians, the Gujaratis and the Maharashtrians form the major chunk of the population in this state. The Maharashtrians, who predominate as a community, are true followers of Shivaji and still carry forward everything that he espoused. All festivals are celebrated with equal zeal and all religions have their places of worship which are respected equally.
Festivals, which prove the enthusiasm of the people of Maharashtra, are all celebrated with the same gusto. Ganesh Chaturthi, which defines Maharashtra, specifically Mumbai is the biggest festival. People look forward to it and the preparations start well in advance. Schools and colleges remain shut for a few days during the ten day celebrations. Tents are installed at close proximity to each other and people of all faiths come to pray to Lord Ganesha. Similarly, the entire state which hosts so many Churches is lit up for Christmas and everyone exchanges gifts and attends the sermons. Be it the Parsi New Year or Id, every festival is accorded the same respect by declaring a public holiday.
Powada is an Indian Dance Form which is common to all the people of Maharashtra because it glorifies Shivaji. It is a form of Marathi poetry, written in Ballad style, which narrates the historical events related to his life. Some of the poems elevate Shivaji by reciting his encounters and victories. The other popular dance form is Lavani, which has a strong rhythm and is a combination of dance and music. A lot of Indian playwrights incorporate Lavani as the choir of their plays or a recurrent motif. The dance is usually erotic in nature and serves as a satire in the plays. Vijay Tendulkar effectively used this technique to attack a famous political figure of his time. Lavani is usually performed by women who move to the beats of the Dholki.
The art and craft of Maharashtra is mesmerising and can leave anyone fascinated. From street art to gallery exhibitions, the state will have something for all sorts of art lovers. Some streets of Maharashtra are smeared with funky shapes and inspiring quotes. The state boasts of some of the best museums and art galleries – Jehangir Art Gallery being the most famous one. It is always cramped with renowned artists and their works. Usually local artists encroach upon the area outside these museums and galleries to sell their own pieces of creativity, which are beautiful.
Maharashtra is also a popular shopping destination because of its authentic crafts. The Kolhapuri Chappals are bought all over the country. Paithani sarees and Warli Paintings are other famous Maharashtrian items. The hand-made jewellery from Kolhapur looks elegant and exquisite. It is always in demand among the foreigners.
As far as the cuisine is concerned, Maharashtra will regale you with its unique and delicious dishes. The vada pav, which is the food for the people who are always in a hurry and always on the go can be found on every by-lane and every food vendor on the street. Pain Poori – the most indulgent street food across India, is an item with which the people of Maharashtra have successfully experimented. They have formulated various recipes for this one simple chaat item. The Pav Bhaji is another famous dish of the state, which comes with an assortment of flavours. Misal Pav is something which looks like Pav Bhaji on the exterior but, is instead made from beans and topped with onions and sev. Sev is the staple add on in the state of Maharashtra. Be it sandwiches or parantha, everything is garnished with sev. How can anyone forget the mouth watering bhel puri and sev puri? The vendors will even pack some extra sev for you.
The Maharashtrians even have a different way of draping their sarees. The men mostly wear the dhoti and the kurta. The traditional attire is a waistcoast called ‘bandi’ which is worn by both men and women alike. It can be paired with dhotis for men and skirts or salwar kameez for women. The men belonging to the Parsi section of the population wear a long muslin shirt with loose trousers, teamed up with a cap and sometimes a waistcoat. The Parsi women, however, wear a long dress or adapt themselves according to the accepted costume of the state. Most of them wear sarees in Maharashtra.
The state of Maharashtra, with all its idiosyncrasies continues to delight every Indian. The peculiar customs of different people blend perfectly together and form an exquisite mosaic.