The third-largest state of India, Maharashtra occupies a significant portion of the Deccan plateau and sits along the Konkan coast looking onto the Arabian Sea. The commercial and industrial pivot of the state lies in its capital city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. The most prevalent language of the state is Marathi, the literary endeavours of which has managed to survive despite the plundering and oppression caused during the British Raj.
The Maharashtra Culture is one of the most diverse and brilliant all throughout India. Today we explore the rich heritage, the occasions where the people come together, often regardless of religion and community, the aspects that are unique to the state and their significance in the country of India.
Maharashtra Traditional Dress
The Maharashtra traditional dress is suited to festive occasions as well as to the prevalent weather conditions. Rich in vibrant colours and unique designs, the women commonly wear the traditional nine-yard long saree called the ‘Nauvari’, along with a ‘choli’ or blouse as the top. These types of sarees have a unique pattern of draping that allows ease in movement, and thus also produces a recognised icon of the Maharashtrian culture. Stunning pieces of jewellery like the ‘nath’ or nose ring and adorning necklaces called ‘saaj’ are worn as accessories by the women.
The men, on the other hand, wear a shirt or kurta paired with the ‘dhoti’, usually made of cotton, which is draped around the waist and extends up to the ankles. Other than the cotton caps called ‘pheta’ or ‘pagadi’ which they put on their heads, a sleeveless jacket called ‘bandi’ is also occasionally worn. During festive seasons, the men wear Ackan, Churidar, and Pyjama.
Art and craft of Maharashtra
Being one of the largest cotton-producing states in the country, Maharashtrian artisans and craftsmen extensively use cotton for their fabric-based endeavours. The luxurious ‘Mashru’ and ‘Himroo’ fabrics are made from blending cotton and silk together in a special handloom machine. The Narayan Peth sarees originated in the district of Solapur and are woven from cotton and silk. These are decorated with small motifs across the body which present a striking contrast with its border.
The handmade leather slippers of Kolhapur have been a part of the traditional footwear since the thirteenth century. These ‘chappals’ boast of intricate designs that enhance its basic rustic style and are of immense durability. Kolhapur is also famous for its jewellery like the Saaj, Mohanmal, Bormal, and Putlihaar. In the Sawantwadi style of lacquer crafts, motifs of nature and mythology are deliberately painted on the surface of different objects like furniture, figurines, and showpieces.
Unruffled by the hustle of city life and modernization, the Warli tribe of Thane district still thrives in the very core of nature. Their simplistic wall-paintings are rich with poetic and spiritual imagery, usually depicting the regular lives of the people. Employing basic shapes like triangles, circles, and squares, the artists symbolically represent aspects of nature and creative energy in these paintings which is globally known as Warli Paintings.
Architecture of Maharashtra
The first caves in Maharashtra that have historical records were found by Buddhist monks in the 2nd century BC during their search for an adequate and peaceful place to reside and meditate. The famous rock-cut carvings which comprise some of the oldest wall paintings are present in the Ajanta and Ellora caves. These Hindu cave temples are regarded as a cultural emblem all over India, and the world.
The Wada architectural style of housing and temple planning encapsulates the proud heritage, culture, and traditions that belonged to the dauntless and tumultuous reign of the Marathas. Shaniwar Wada and Lal Mahal in Pune are also prominent examples of Maratha architecture. Some of the most important fortresses in the state are Raigadi, Vijaydurgu, and Sinhagadi. During the reign of British Raj, Mumbai saw varying styles of architecture that were used to construct its historical structures and buildings, including Gothic, Victorian, Art-Decos, and Indo-Saracenic revival. These are seen in notable monuments like the Gateway of India and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
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