History of Bharud
The Bharud stands as an ancient form of poetic expression that found prominence within the works of saint poets, notably exemplified by Eknath (1528-99). Eknath's profound contribution encompasses a collection of 300 Bharudas, each addressing 125 distinct subjects. This literary creation holds a distinctive appeal, garnering substantial popularity.
Manifesting itself through the veneer of comedy, the Bharud serves as a platform to critique various inhumane practices, specifically those relating to matrimony and deceit, prevalent across diverse sects. Eknath adeptly employs characters within the Bharud, including the archetypal "joshi" or sage-tailor, "sadhus" or ascetics, diligent housewives, and the skilled "gondhalis" or Gondhal artists. These characters collectively portray a spectrum of human experience, addressing common instances from everyday life. Quarrels between spouses, encounters with scorpions, and the ritualistic exorcism of ghosts form part of this art form.
A pivotal function of the Bharud resides in its capacity to debunk unfounded customs, dispel superstitions, and enlighten the uninformed. Through the lens of the sage-poet, the Bharud emerges as a mechanism to challenge and satirize these aspects of societal ignorance, cleverly serving to expose and transcend their influence. In essence, Eknath's Bharud echoes the sagacity of a bygone era while simultaneously offering insights into the human condition, all within the framework of formal verse
Content of Bharud
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. 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.
Performance of Bharud
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 and 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.
The Bharud begins with the praise of Lord Vithoba with the loud cry. 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 Bharud finally gives the spiritual conclusion.
Evolution of Bharud
The essence of Bharud has undergone a significant evolution, characterized by shifts in gender dynamics, thematic content, performance nuances, and the incorporation of modern issues. In its early inception, Bharud was a male-dominated performance art form. However, contemporary times have witnessed a transformation in this landscape, with notable female practitioners of saintly literature, such as Gangubai Jadhav, Lakshmibai Giram, and Chandabai Tiwadi, assuming the mantle of women's Bharud presentations. Chandabai Tiwadi's contributions even earned her recognition from the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi. These adept performers are frequently invited to showcase their talents on radio and television platforms.
Within Maharashtra, figures like Niranjan Bhakere, Chandabai Tiwadi, and Meerabai Ump have assumed prominent roles as Bharud presenters. Notably, during the pre-independence era, the indomitable duo of Radhabai Arote and Sitabai Arote from Junnar taluka rose to prominence as Varkari Bharude performers, captivating audiences across Mumbai and Maharashtra while dressed in men's attire.
The thematic landscape of Bharud has experienced a notable shift over time. Modern-day performances tackle issues of immense social relevance, encompassing topics like female foeticide, farmer suicides, inflation, and corruption. The foundational verses of these compositions remain unchanged, yet the expository elements and conclusions have evolved to reflect contemporary concerns.
Costuming has also witnessed transformation within Bharud performances. Previously, male performers simulating female roles utilized a simple approach by draping a lengthy dupatta around their torsos and heads as a ghunghat. However, current trends manifest a departure from this practice, as male performers now don sarees and adopt the appearance of rural women. This transition underscores the evolving artistic preferences of audiences, prompting the integration of elaborate costumes and props to enhance the overall impact and allure of the performances.
In modern times, prominent Bharud performers like Shahir Sabale draw several people or listeners. After Tamasha, Bharud is next favourite form of folk art in the rural areas. Bharud is an important part of annual fairs. It thus provides entertainment as well as moral or ethical instruction to the audience.
The Bharud is mainly performed during the Ashadhi Ekadashi Waris. It is an event of profound cultural and religious significance within Maharashtra. The gathering witnesses the convergence of thousands of devout Warkaris, who undertake arduous pilgrimages from diverse corners of Maharashtra to the sacred site of Pandharpur. This hallowed destination enshrines the revered figures of Lord Vitthal and his consort, Devi Rukmini. Amidst the Waris, an array of folk arts assumes prominence, endeavoring to both entertain the weary pilgrims and embolden them to persevere on their spiritual journey.
In 2011, the Vaman Kendra at Darwadi hosted the inaugural Bharud Mahotsav to showcase the enduring vitality of the Bharuda tradition. Dr. Ramchandra Dekhne, a distinguished scholar of Saint literature, has played a pivotal role in safeguarding and promoting the art of Bharud. His steadfast dedication has translated into 2100 distinct explorations of the 'Bahurupi Bharood' art form, a remarkable endeavor that persisted until May 14, 2016. The Bharud Festival serves as both a source of spiritual rejuvenation for the pilgrims and a legacy of the Bharud art form.