Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Folk dance in news: Lavani


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lavani

Mains level: NA


Central idea: The article is based on the controversy surrounding the Maharashtra folk dance form, Lavani, which has come under criticism for being ‘vulgar’ and ‘obscene’.

What is the Lavani folk art form?

  • The word Lavani comes from ‘lavanya’ or beauty.
  • Lavani is a traditional folk art form in which women dancers wearing nine-yard-long sarees in bright colours, make-up, and ghunghroos perform on dholak beats on a stage before a live audience.
  • As an indigenous art form, Lavani has a history going back several centuries, and it 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.

Genres of Lavani

  • There are several types 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.
  • 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.

Why is it under fire these days?

  • Lost its original form: Some also argue that the commercialization of Lavani has led to a loss of authenticity and cultural significance.
  • Objectifying women: The criticism of Lavani dance centres on the traditional dance form’s alleged objectification and commodification of women’s bodies.
  • Public obscenity: It has been accused of promoting obscenity and vulgarity and reinforcing patriarchal attitudes towards women.
  • Communalizing/Stereotyping: Critics have also argued that the dance form perpetuates negative stereotypes of women from marginalized communities, such as the notion that Dalit women are “loose” or sexually promiscuous.


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