Cultural Symbols || Rituals || Social Culture || Personal Culture

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The history of the origin of the Marathis dates back to more than two millennia. The Marathi people take the pride of being the 17th largest ethnic group in India. The existence of the community of the state of Maharashtra came prominent only during the period of Shivaji who established the Maratha Empire in 1674.The Maharashtrians occupy the state of Mahrashtra which is in the western region of India and they basically belong to the Indo-Aryan ethnic group. The Maharasthrians speak Marathi language which is a part of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages. It was during the 20th century, that the people belonging to the peasant community of the Indo-Aryan Kshatriya Marathi class who were described as Kunbi started using the word Maratha to describe them. Thus today the former Indo-Aryan Kshatriya Kunbi caste as well as the 96 clan upper caste Maratha group is referred more specifically as the Marathas. The culture of MAHARASHTRA can be best expressed as comprising the following :

The residents of the Maharashtra state along with their culture, language and lifestyle are known as the Marath's whereas the Maharashtrians refers to those people who have migrated to Maharashtra from other regions of India, who may or may not observe the authentic culture and language. Apart from the people living in the urban area there are many tribal communities like Bhils, Mahadeo, Kolis, Gonds and Warlis who occupy the land in the Deccan plateau. These tribal people strictly adhere to their lifestyles and traditions for they are still not exposed to modernization.

The distinct mix of various cultures has shaped the people of Maharashtra into a land of prosperity and spirituality. Though the state is developed to a great extent in the field of modernization, the people maintain their culture by following their traditional practices. The state was being initially the land of the great warriors who have left behind grandeur, high spirits, exuberance and might. All these features add to the rich culture and heritage to the Marathis. The Maharashtrians are known for their special dance forms which accompanies most festivals of the state. The Sholapur district in Maharashtra is noted for its Dhangari Gaja dance where the people adorn themselves with dhoti, angarakha and pheta and colorful handkerchiefs. The people of Maharashtra perform a special type of dance known as Lavani in any gatherings like social, political and religious. Many social functions never miss the Povadas dance which mainly depicts the history of the Maratha ruler, Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

During Vinayaka Chaturthi the people of Maharashtra follow a number of traditional customs. On the mythical birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha the people create the idols of Ganesha, decorate it and place it on a raised platform. It is a traditional practice to have the idol worshipped for ten days and on the eleventh day the people end the festival by carrying the idol on the streets by singing and dancing and then immerse the statue in the water. The celebration of this festival is an indication of the euphoria of the Maharastrian people. The Mahrashtrians celebrate the festival of Light, Diwali for nearly four days. On these days as a traditional custom the people light lot of diyas with a belief to take away all evil factors from their life.

The traditional attire of men in Maharashtra is the dhoti and shirt. Most of the elderly men wear the Pheta or the head dress which is a matter of respect. The Pheta is a folded turban made of cotton, silk or woolen fabric. A waistcoat known as "Bandi" is also worn at times on top of the shirt. The Maratha Brahmans are very particular about the securing of their dhoti, which always had to have five tucks, three into the waistband at the two sides and in front, while the loose end is tucked in front and behind. But however with more of modernization today the use of Dhoti is getting extinct among the people of Maharashtra. The "Lugade" or the nine yard sari is the traditional attire of the women of Maharashtra which is worn along with a short-sleeved `Choli`and the sari is tucked between the legs. The sari usually has borders on either side and the sari is allowed to hang from the waist down straight and round like a skirt and draw its end, which covers the bosom and back over the head.

The staple food of the Mahrashtrians is a dish called as bhakri,which includes cooked vegetables, dal and rice. Bhakri is usually made of jowar, bajra or bajri.The people living in northern part of the state generally prefer roti and those in the Konkan region are more of rice- eaters and especially a variety of rice known as ambemohar with a special aroma is the favourite among the Maharasthrians. One of the most popular traditional food for breakfast among the Maharashtrians is the "Thalipeeth" a bread kind of preparation made of different kind of roasted lentils. Other snacking or fast food dish which is liked by the Maharashtrians are the Sev bhaji, Misal Pav,Vada pav, Pav bhaji and Patodi which are mostly lacto-vegetarian in nature. Other traditional food of the Marathis which are mostly eaten for breakfast or dinner are Sabudana Khichadi, Pohe, Upma, Sheera and Panipuri. Malvani food is a special food mostly preferred by the people in the South Konkan regions which is predominantly non-vegetarian like Kombdi Vade and baked fish.

Though the people and the state of Maharashtra are highly industrialized, agriculture still seems to be the mainstay of the Maharashtrians. Nearly 60% of Maharashtra's populations are involved in agriculture and its related field. The main food crops of Maharashtra are mangoes, grapes, bananas, oranges, wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and pulses. Cash crops include groundnut, cotton, sugarcane, turmeric, and tobacco. Apart from agriculture people in the urban area work in various fields like major banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and mutual funds. Maharashtra has set up software parks in Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur and Nasik, Aurangabad. The stock exchange in Maharashtra employs a number of people.

Nanasaheb Parulekar -Founder Editor of Sakal - Journalist

B. R. Ambedkar -Drafted the constitution of India.

Khashaba Jadhav -First Olympic individual bronze medal for India in wrestling.

Harish Iyer -LGBT rights activist, Child rights activist.

Lieutenant General SPP Thorat -an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions.