Bharud is a Marathi dramatic song that has double meaning. The meaning has a materialistic meaning at the surface level and spiritual meaning at the deeper level. It thus provides entertainment as well as moral or ethical instruction to the audience.
Bharud is a very old poetic form mainly used by the saint poets like Eknath (1528-99). This poet is credited with writing 300 Bharuds on 125 subjects. This was a very unique and very popular creation. Under the guise of comedy, it condemns various inhuman practices, hypocritical or fraudulent behaviour prevalent in different cults. The characters depicted in Bharud include the Joshi (fortune-teller), sadhus, housewives, and Gondhalis (Gondhal performers). It also describes common or daily life situations, such as quarrels between husband and wife, scorpion bites, and exorcisms of ghosts. Bharud also helps in exposing silly customs, superstitions, and duping of ignorant people by sadhus.
Bharud is usually sung as part of a bhajan, or sung and enacted, often within a talk. The actor-singer who performs Bharud dresses as a Gondhali, Daur i.e. an actor, Vaghya i.e. male worshipper of Khandoba or Vasudev i.e. a performer having peacock feathers in his cap. For games like kabaddi
he utilizes traditional tunes, movements and rhythms. His companions also known as sampadani remain in their usual clothes. Verisimilitude is added with a prop, like a basket or a baby tied to the back. Make-up is not much applied. The dancers dance in rhythmic steps that involve rapid spinning movements. They also wear anklets that enhance the effect and mood of dancing. Angik (physical) abhinaya
plays an important role in Bharud. During the enactment of Bharud several interpolations arise in the form of dialogues taking place between the leader and his companions. Usually the first stanza of Bharud describes the material situation and the later stanzas give a detailed explanation of the theme. Gradually explaining the meanings of the stanzas the Bharaud finally gives the spiritual conclusion. In modern times, prominent Bharud performers like Shahir Sabale draw several people or listeners.
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