(Last Updated on : 14/08/2012)
The villages of Maharashtra are considered the lifeline for the state as the economic, agricultural or industrial strength of Maharashtra largely depends upon the villages. Maharashtra is one of the largest states in India by geographical area and also has one of the highest rural populations. A major portion of the state`s total population lives in the villages of Maharashtra. A combination of the houses made of mud, stone or trees; the lush greenery and the wonderful sight of paddy fields create a great pictorial view in the villages of Maharashtra.
People from different religious communities live in the villages of Maharashtra. The huge diversity of religious communities in the villages of Maharashtra has given the state a multi-cultural identity. The Hindus are the principal religious community in the villages of Maharashtra. Apart from Hinduism, the other major religious paths followed by the rural population include Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Jewish and Zoroastrianism. The largest populations of Jain, Zoroastrian and Jewish in India are said to reside in the villages of Maharashtra. There are also many tribal communities as well. The major tribes include Gond, Bhil, Mahadeo Koli, Warli, Oraon, Kokna, Thakur, Halba, Andh, Koli Malhar, Katkari, Kolam, Korku, Gamit, etc. Many languages are spoken by the people in the villages of Maharashtra out of which, Marathi is the most widely spoken. Marathi is also the official language of the state. Besides Marathi, the other major languages include Hindi, Gujarati, Konkani, Varhadii, Dangii, Ahirani, etc.
Significant portions of the population in the villages of Maharashtra are educated. The literacy rate in the villages of Maharashtra is counted amongst the highest ones in India. Several government primary schools have been established in the rural areas to provide primary education to the children. There are also many colleges and universities established in the urban areas to provide higher education to the students. Many new educational institutions have recently been established by the governmental authorities to further improve the educational scenario in the villages of Maharashtra.
Like most villages in other parts of the country, agriculture is the principal occupation for a majority of people in the villages of Maharashtra. The villagers cultivate both food crops and crash crops throughout the year to earn their livelihoods. The major food crops cultivated in the villages of Maharashtra include wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, mangoes, grapes, bananas, oranges, pulses, etc. On the other hand, groundnut, cotton, sugarcane, turmeric, tobacco, etc. are the principal cash crops cultivated in the villages of Maharashtra. Apart from these, the crops like sorghum, pearlmillet, chickpea, soybean, sunflower, safflower, etc. are also cultivated by the villagers in Maharashtra. The Nagpur oranges, oranges of Bathplug, the Alphonso mangoes, the grapes of Nashik, etc are popular throughout the country.
The villages of Maharashtra are quite famous for producing many high quality arts and crafts products. Many people in the villages of Maharashtra are engaged in handicrafts industry and they make some extraordinary handicraft products. The most notable arts and crafts in the villages of Maharashtra include the Sawantwadi Crafts, Bidri Works, Kolhapuri chappals, Leather works, Weaving, Mashru and Himru, Paithani sarees, Narayan Peth Sarees, etc. The residents in the villages of Maharashtra are also involved in various industries. The major industries providing employment to the villagers include chemical and allied products, electrical and non-electrical machinery, textiles, petroleum and allied products, metal products, wine, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, machine tools, steel and iron castings, plastic wares, etc.
The cultural diversity in the villages of Maharashtra is quite remarkable. The villages have a multi-cultural identity as they are home various religious communities and ethnic groups. The tribal culture is one of the most remarkable features of the Maharashtra villages. The tribes have their own ways of dressing, dialect, folklore, customs and practices and have a rich cultural heritage that is distinctly different from the other social groups. They still practice their old traditions like worshipping nature in different forms, animal sacrifices during religious ceremonies, adorning head with horn, etc. The villagers celebrate a number of fairs and festivals throughout the year and they like to wear traditional dresses during the festivals. The most famous religious festivals celebrated in the villages of Maharashtra include Diwali, Holi, Makar Sankranti, Nag Panchami, Pola, Gudhi Padwa, Narali Pournima, Gokul Ashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra, Holi/Vasant Panchami, etc. The other popular festivals are the Elephanta Festival, the Ellora Festival, Pune Festival, the Banganga Festival, etc.
The residents in the villages of Maharashtra celebrate the festivals with great enthusiasm and cheerfulness. They perform different forms of traditional music and dance during the fairs and festivals. The famous traditional music and the folk forms performed in the villages of Maharashtra include lavnis, povadas, gondnals, bharuds, etc. The other popular forms of traditional folk music and theatre include Chitrakatha, Dhonageet, Tamasha, etc.
The wonderful pictorial view of the villages of Maharashtra attracts many tourists from all over the country every year. The people like to explore the rich cultural variety and also to experience the tribal life in the villages of Maharashtra.