Cultural heritage of Maharashtra is rich and sustained over centuries by waves of settlers and its diverse and rich geography, biology, people and customs. Its long tradition in arts have flourished from the cave paintings at Ajanta to today's Warli paintings and handicrafts of Maharashtra are beyond comparison. The arts and crafts of Maharashtra are exciting and compelling.
Dindi and Kala
Dindi and Kala are two religious devotional dances performed in Maharashtra. These dances describe the playfullness of Lord Krishna. Dindi is a small drum like a 'Tamate'. The musicians are gathered in the centre; a 'Mridangam' accompanied with a vocalist gives the dancers the necessary musical background. Around the musicians, the assembled men and women dance joyfully. This is usually prformed on the Ekadashi day in the month of Kartik.
The craft of lacquer ware was introduced into Sawantwadi around the end of the 17th century. During the 18th and the 19th centuries, various schools of this craft were started in Sawantwadi. Many of the artisans were moved from nearby Goa. The painting of mythological figures show three distinct styles, roughly divided into the Chitrakatha, Temple and Ganjifa styles. Now-a-days Sawantwadi lacquer ware has a large range of products and concentrates on traditional hand painted and lacquered furniture and light fittings.
Bidri ware, another one of Aurangabad's ancient crafts, is made from a combination of zinc and copper. It usually involves intricate workmanship of pure silver, either embossed, overlaid or inlaid on the metal surface. Originally, Bidri ware items were used as hookahs or paan daans. Nowadays they are more often sold as souvenirs.
Kolhapur is most famous for its hand-made leather sandals or chappals. These leather sandals are very popular all over the world. they are simple in styles and comfortable to wear. Depending up on the quality of leather and design, the cost may vary but in general Kolhapuri chappals are good value for the money.
Maharashtra has a strong textile history and has different types of saris or materials that is typical of a particular area or region, such as Kolhapur, Pune, Paithan and Aurangabad.
Mashru and Himru
Mashru and Himru are two types of fabrics made of cotton and silk with lusture of satin. Aurangabad is famous for these fabrics. Himru shawls of Aurangabad is a less expensive type of brocade in which both silk and cotton threads are used to produce the multi-colored designs. The actual ornamental design is formed on the principle of extra weft figuring. Because of this extra layer of loose silk weft, the Himru shawls are soft, and almost feel like silk. It is believed that Mohamed-bin-Tughlak brought weavers to Aurangabad from Ahmedabad, Banaras and Gujarat, which led to the start of the Himru industry.
The art of weaving Paithani saris is 2000 years old. The yarn used is pure silk and the zari or gold threads are drawn from pure gold. A heavily brocaded Paithani sari takes anywhere from six months to one and a half years to weave.
Narayan Peth sari is a traditional Maharashtrian sari from around Sholapur, beautifully woven in silk with a contrasting zari border, generally with 'rudraksha' motifs.
The Warlis are tribal people who live in the Thane district, north of Mumbai. Traditionally, Warli paintings or chawk were made by women folk during wedding rituals, using rice paste and straw those were then smeared on the walls of their huts. Presently Warli paintings are also done on paper and sold all over India. The themes of these Warli paintings are strangely ascetic. They are painted in white on an austere brown surface decorated with occasional dots in red and yellow. Men, animals and trees form a loose, rhythmic pattern across the entire sheet.
The cuisine of Maharashtra is largely influenced by the landscape, the people and the crops grown in various regions. It is not only memorable for its subtle variety and strong flavours, but also because of the legendary hospitality of Maharashtrians.
The exotic Konkani food of the West coast of Maharashtra, be it the mild, naturally fragrant vegetable mixture served with local papads, or a spicy-hot fish and meat curry with a coconut milk base, is a gourmet's dream come true.
Vidarbha's cuisine is spicier and more exotic than that of the coastal and southern regions. The ingredients commonly used are besan, or chickpea flour, and ground peanuts.
The food of Peshwas and Brahmin communities of Pune is delicate, sparsely designed and entirely vegetarian. 'Puneri misal', 'thalipeeth', 'puri bhaji' and 'dalimbi usal' are not only tasty and nutritious, but inexpensive to make.
Kolhapur is famous for its spicy meat curries. Popularly called 'Matnacha rassa', red-hot meat dish is served with robust chappatis, a white gravy to dilute its pungency or a chilli gravy for the bravehearts.
Aurangabad's food is much like Moghlai or Hyderabadi food, with its fragrant pulaos and biryanis. Meat cooked in fresh spices and herbs is a speciality, as are the delectable sweets.
The Nagpur food is generally spicy, with a good amount of ghee, and peanuts, dried copra and dal are often the basis of the flavours.