Lavani is a combination of song and dance, which is particularly performed on the fast beats of the Dholki. Literally, the word Lavani is derived from the term ‘Lavanya,’ which means beauty in Marathi. Essentially, it is performed in Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh by females wearing a nauvari saree (nine-yard long saree). What is interesting about this dance form is the theme and contemporary issues associated with it.
Genre and Types
The origin of Lavani can be traced back to the 1560s but it came into popularity in the Peshwa rule. Traditionally this genre of folk dance deals with subjects like society, religion and politics. Originally it was a sort of morale booster for tired soldiers as the songs which are sung along with dance are generally erotic and naughty in nature.
Lavani developed in two distinct performances, namely Phadachi Lavani and Baithakichi Lavani. The Phadachi Lavani is performed publically in front of a large audience while Baithakichi Lavani is performed in private in an enclosed chamber performed for a selective audience.
Essentially, themes of Lavani are divided into two- The Nirguni Lavani (philosophical) and the Shringari Lavani (sensual).
"The main subject matter of the Lavani dance is the various forms of love between a man and a woman. Married wife's menstruation, sexual union between husband and Wife, their love, soldier's amorous exploits, the wife's bidding farewell to the husband who is going to join the war, pangs of separation, adulterous love - the intensity of adulterous passion, childbirth: these are all the different themes of the Lavani. The Lavani poet out-steps the limits of social decency and control when it comes to the depiction of sexual passion."
- K. Ayyappapanicker, Sahitya Akademi