To even a casual follower of Marathi culture, the word
Lavani conjures up images of a traditional song- dance presentation,
typically performed to the captivating rhythm of 'Dholak' by attractive
women wearing nine-yard saris. The women move lustily to an infectious
tune and teasing lyrics.
The word Lavani originates from "Lavanya", meaning beauty. Originally this art form, a combination of dance and music is dealt with different and varied subject matters such as society, religion, politics, romance, etc.
In the battle-torn landscape of Maharashtra,
it served as entertainment and morale booster to the tired soldiers during
the 18th and 19th century. It reached its zenith during the Peshwai (a
dynasty seated in Pune
) rule, when it was given royal support by the ruling elite.
Several famous Marathi poets such as Honaji Bala, Ramjoshi, Prabhakar, etc. took Lavani to new heights. In the recent times, Lavani has become passe, mainly confined to sensual entertainment often presented in a stereotyped, cheap form in Marathi films.