Sunday, May 1, 2016

Maharashtra Diwas


On the occasion of Maharashtra Diwas (May1), a few old marathi songs :


From the movie Mumbaicha Jawai ( Son -in- law from Mumbai) - the song ka re durawa ka re abola. In the movie, a small-town girl Durga, who has grown up in a wad (big sprawling old house) gets married to a boy from Mumbai and moves to the big city only to discover that her new home is two small cramped rooms in a tenement that she has to share with two other couples - her mother and father- in- law and elder sister and brother- in- law. She frets and fumes at the lack of privacy.  Gently, with love and understanding her new family helps her adjust to her new surroundings. 

Why wasn't the movie called Mumbaichi Soon ( Daughter -in -law of Mumbai) I wonder, as the story is more about the girl and her in- laws than her husband and his in -laws. Durga's sister - in -law Manju is singing the song in the above clip.  The words - ka re abola simply mean - why aren't you talking to me?


Are sansar sansar is a poem by Bahinabai Choudhary that was used as song in the movie Manini. Bahinabai (1880 - 1951) was an illiterate village woman who composed poetry orally while performing her daily chores, in the farm as well as at home. They were later written down by her son Sopandev. In school we  learned one of her poems called mana wadhay wadhay. It is a beautiful poem about this mysterious thing called the mind. In it Bahinabai says mind is like a bird -one minute it is on earth and next minute it is soaring high in the sky; mind is like the waves created on water by the wind and mind can be deadly poison worse than the venom of snake or scorpio. At the end of the poem she asks rhetorically -  god, how did you come up with this thing and answers her own question saying it must be something you day -dreamed about. In are sansar sansar, Bahinabai compares sansar - domestic life - to a hot griddle on the stove. You burn your hand first she says before you get to eat the bhakari.

Bhakari eaten with raw onion, fresh green chillies or a simple spicy chutney is the staple food of rural Maharashtra. Cooked without any fat - no oil, no ghee- it is probably one of the healthiest flat breads  - especially if you make it the way it is shown in the song: Take some jwari or bajari grown in your own farm; grind it on the jata (grinding wheel) to make just enough flour to last for a week or two; knead the dough with water and flatten a small ball by hand to make a big thin round bhakari; Cook it on earthen stove.

This song jeevanat hee ghadi reminds me of a phrase my mother used to use: sadichi ghadi modayachi. New sarees especially cottons and silks come crisply folded. Sometimes when my mom bought a new saree, she would not wear it right away but save it for a special occasion or an auspicious day saying, "padvyala navin sadichi ghadi modin"- I'll break the fold of my new sari on Padwa. The first line in the above song says jeevanat hee ghadi asheech rahu de- let the fold of my life remain intact.

The handwoven silk sadi that is the pride of Maharashtra is of course the paithani named after the village Paithan near Aurangabad where they are made. The Wikipedia entry for Paithani says, one of the characteristics of that sadi is the motif of peacock woven in golden thread on its padar (part of the sadi that drapes over the shoulder). In the above song in the first line a girl is asking her aai (mother) to dress her in a new shalu (rich sadi) with dancing golden peacock on its padar. I wonder if poetically, she is in effect asking her mother for a paithani - an extravagant purchase at any age let alone for a young girl. This song is a lavani, a type of folk song from Maharashtra and is sung by Sulochna Chavan, a well known lavani singer.

No list of marathi popular songs can be complete without the above song. It would not be an exaggeration to say that generations of maharshtrian children have taken their first steps tapping their feet to the beat of this balgeet. The first line says nach re mora ambyachya vanat nach re mora nach - dance peacock dance in the mango orchard. Asha Bhosale originally sang this for the movie Devbappa over 50 years ago. Everyone knows that the Mangeshkar sisters Lata and Asha, through their sweet, melodious voice ruled the hindi playback signing world for over five decades. What is probably lesser known outside Maharashtra is that their brother Hridyanath Mangeshkar has rendered some deeply haunting soulful marathi songs like the one below:

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