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Lavani Folk Art Form


NCP leader has directed members of his party to not organise raunchy public shows in the name of Lavani, a folk song-and-dance performance that is popular in Maharashtra.


GS I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Lavani folk art form?
  2. What is the basis for the criticism?

What is the Lavani folk art form?

  •  Lavani is a traditional folk art form that originated in Maharashtra, India.
History and Evolution:
  • The word “Lavani” comes from “lavanya,” which means beauty.
  • Lavani has a history going back several centuries and attained particular popularity in the Peshwa era in the 18th century.
  • Traditionally, performances were held in front of kings or lords, and for the entertainment of tired soldiers resting during breaks in fighting.
  • There are several sub-genres of Lavani, of which the most popular is the Shringarik (erotic) kind, in which the lyrics are often teasing, with sensuous dance steps and delicate gestures employed to convey erotic meaning.
Acceptance and Audience:
  • Over the years, Lavani has gained more acceptability among the people, even though certain taboos around it continue.
  • The audience has historically been all-male, but in recent years, some women too have begun to attend performances.
Popularity and Outreach:
  • Lavani became well known outside Maharashtra, throughout India and even outside the country, following its use in popular media such as cinema.
  • Over the past few years, with the explosion in the use of social media, short clips of dances have become very popular.

What is the basis for the criticism?

  • Lavani is a traditional folk art form in Maharashtra, India, which includes sensual and erotic elements.
  • In 1948, the Chief Minister of Bombay banned Lavani performances after complaints of obscenity, which led to a sanitisation of the art form.
  • Live Lavani performances still attract a large young male audience, often with risque costumes and gestures.
  • Some veterans of the art form criticise these trends as vulgar and low-brow, and call for a set of guidelines and a body to regulate the art form.
  • Ajit Pawar, a politician, called for Lavani to be performed without obscenity, and may raise the issue in the state Assembly.
  • However, a Lavani researcher and author argues that a ban is not the answer and may lead to more illegal activities in the age of social media and the Internet.

-Source: Indian Express

April 2024