Maharashtra is the largest state in India, situated in the western region. It is the world’s second most populated state after Mexico. A population of 110 million inhabitants and Mumbai as its capital, cover up to 18 million population. The winter capital of the state is Nagpur which is also the second capital. Maharashtra attracts migrants from all over the country as it provides with a lot of opportunities for a higher standard of living.
History of Maharashtra:
The history of Maharashtra can be retraced from the 4th century BCE. The dominant language of Maharashtra was Maharashtri Prakrit form which the Marathi language developed in the 9th century. The oldest stone inscription can be seen at Shravana Belgola which is at the foot of Karnataka, which is in Marathi. Further after time passed “Maharashtra” was used as the term to refer to the regions like Kuntal, Vidharbha, Aparanta, Ashmak Assaka and Mulak. The area of Dandakaranya, was the place where the tribal communities like Bhil, Munda and Naga resided.
Traditional wear of Maharashtra:
The traditional attire of Maharashtra involves a saree, which is commonly worn during the customs. The traditional nauvari which is a nine-yard long drape is worn during traditional festivals and customs. In Urban Maharashtra women usually wear western outfits and casuals like jeans, shirt, dress or salwar kameez. On special occasions women wear “Paithani” saree, which is five-yard long saree. The men have a greater influence of the western side.
While during occasions and marriages they wear the traditional dhoti and “pheta” which means turban. In the rural areas men wear the Gandhi cap and women mostly wear sarees or nauvaris. Kolhapuri saaj, a special type of necklace, is also worn by Marathi women, which is an important part of the attire.
Culture of Maharashtra:
The Land of Maharashtra is known as the land of saints, revolutionists, educationists. Some of the notable personalities like Balgangadhar Tilak, Swatantra Veer Sawarkar, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Savitribai Phule and many more. Maharashtra has a history of saints like Tukaram, Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Eknath and many more who played important role in reforming the culture of Maharashtra. In the 17th century, King Shivaji of the Maratha Empire had a great impact of the Hindavi Swarajya concept in the culture. Maharashtra is a multi-cultural state which has various cultures like Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians etc.
Dance of Maharashtra:
Maharashtra has a popular dance form called as Lavani. It is Maharashtra’s popular music genre. Lavani is the traditional dance form which combines dance and traditional folk music, performed on the “Dholki” beats. The development of Marathi theatre has substantially taken place because of lavani. It is a dance where women dance on powerful rhythms. The performers wear nine-yard song sarees called as “navwari”.
The Maharashtrian music involves Bhavageete or Bhavageeth, which means, ’emotion poetry’ and is a form of light music and poetry with emotions. There is other type of music called as Natya Sangeet which involves classical and semi-classical music. The name itself means dramatic music used in Dramas and also used as a form of vocal art.
Maharashtrian cuisine involves the authentic and traditional food prepared by the Marathi people of the state. The Maharashtrian cuisine has a wild range of dishes from spicy to sweet dishes. The staples used in the Maharashtrian diet are rice, Bajri, Wheat, Jowar rice, lentils, vegetables and fruits. Some distinct dishes involve Vada Pav, ukdiche modak, puranpoli, aloochi bhaji, aloo wadi, misal pav and many more authentic dishes which also involve meat dishes. Maharashtrians often serve cashews and Peanuts in the dishes.
Festivals in Maharashtra:
There are various festivals celebrated in Maharashtra with enthusiasm, vibrancy and excitement. These festivals reflect a true mirror of the Maharashtrian Culture. The most important festivals of Maharashtra are Makar Sankranti, Diwali, Nag Panchami, Gudi Padwa, Pola, Narali Pournima, Gokulashtami. These festivals are celebrated with all traditions and rituals.
Diwali is the festival celebrated in October or November to depict happiness and the victory of good over evil. People decorate their houses with lights, lanterns and clay lamps. People wear new clothes and burst fire crackers.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated in January, where people exchange ‘Tilgul’ a sweet and give good wishes.
The festival of Nag Panchami is celebrated in honour of the snake god known as “Shesha Nag”, where people worship the idol of cobras.
The festival of Gudi Padwa is the most important festival of the Hindu people as it is the start of their new year. People erect “Gudhi”, which is a symbol of victory on a bamboo stick, covered with coloured silk cloth, flowers and accompanied with sweets.
The festival of Pola is a harvest festival celebrated by the farmers of Maharashtra in the rural area, where the bullocks are worshipped.
Narali Pournima is a full moon day in the month of “Shravan”, celebrated in august. People make sweets and offer it to the Sea-God and I also considered as a new season of fishing.
“RakshaBandhan” is also celebrated on this day where a sister ties a ‘Rakhi’ to her brother and he vows to protect her whole life.
The festival of Gokulastami is celebrated as the birth of Lord Krishna. The devotees fast till the mid-night till the birth and Gopal kala is prepared on this day. A ritual of breaking the “dahi handi” where youngsters break a clay pot filled with curd, rice and milk, which is hung at a height on the streets.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival, where the Lord Ganesh is worshipped everywhere. People bring home the idol of Lord Ganesh and keep it for 11 days and worship it.
Dussehra festival is the depiction of win of good over evil, related to the epic “Ramayan”, where Lord Ram defeated Ravan. People celebrate this festival by burning idol of Ravan and exchange the leaves of “Apta” which is considered to be auspicious as gold.
The colourful festival of Holi or Vasant Panchami is celebrated in winter after a successful harvest, where people light bonfires and worship the Fire God. On the next day people play with colours and water and celebrate the entire day. The Maharashtrian ladies mostly wear “paithani” sarees for special occasions and the older ladies wear “Nauwari” saree along with gold ornaments and a “Nath”, which is the popular nose piece of the Maharashtrians. The men are simple in their attire, wearing “Dhoti” and “kurta” or “sherwani”, along with a “pheta” or turban. Mostly people wear casuals and formals now-a-days during the festivals.
Major cities of Maharashtra:
The major cities of Maharashtra are Mumbai which is the capital of the state and others are Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Thane, Kolhapur, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivali and many more.
The state capital Mumbai, most famous for its glamourous lifestyle and amazing landmarks, beaches and streets.
The city of Pune located in the mainland, is a tourist attraction for its commercial hub, modern lifestyle and is the ‘Queen of Deccan’ and the ‘Oxford’ of east.
Aurangabad city is in the central part, which is famous for its historic sites and the popular Ajanta and Ellora caves.
The city of Nashik is considered as the Holy city and is famous for the Kumbh Mela held there.
The city of Kolhapur is considered to be a paradise for the shoppers and is famous for the “kolhapuri saaj” a necklace, chappal, saree, bormal, har, mala, putlihar, mohanmal, pohehar and many more. The city of Oranges, as it name says the city of Nagpur is famous for its oranges all over the world.