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Tamasha

Tamasha is a very prominent and popular form of folk theatre in Maharashtra. Folk theatre is present all over India under various names and forms. Ramleela, Rasleela, Nautanki in central and northern India; Bhavai in Gujarat; Jaatra, Gambhiraa, Kirtaniya etc. in Bengal and Bihar; Yakshagaan, Veedhi Natakam, Kamankotu etc. in Southern India are some of the names and types that need mention.  The word Tamasha is originally not a Marathi word and is adopted from the Urdu language. Since the establishment of Muslim rule in Maharashtra from the 13th-14th century, the word has crept in the Marathi Vocabulary. Sant Eknath’s Bharood uses this word as Tamasha. The word is used to describe a situation that can be best summed up as an ‘open scene’. It is primarily a favourite performing art form of the rural population but is looked down on by the stiff-collared in the society by branding it as vulgar.  


Tamasha is a very prominent and popular form of folk theatre in Maharashtra. Folk theatre is present all over India under various names and forms. Ramleela, Rasleela, Nautanki in central and northern India; Bhavai in Gujarat; Jaatra, Gambhiraa, Kirtaniya etc. in Bengal and Bihar; Yakshagaan, Veedhi Natakam, Kamankotu etc. in Southern India are some of the names and types that need mention. 
The word Tamasha is originally not a Marathi word and is adopted from the Urdu language. Since the establishment of Muslim rule in Maharashtra from the 13th-14th century, the word has crept in the Marathi Vocabulary. Sant Eknath’s Bharood uses this word as Tamasha. The word is used to describe a situation that can be best summed up as an ‘open scene’. It is primarily a favourite performing art form of the rural population but is looked down on by the stiff-collared in the society by branding it as vulgar.  
According  to some scholars, this performing art form has originated from the ballads that were sung to describe the exploits of the brave during the course of the war. This gave rise to another breed of poets, who wrote and performed musicals that evoked the sensual emotions in the sex-starved fighters on the battlefield and provide them with some entertainment to relieve their fatigue. This was the beginning of the performing art form of Lavani and it soon collaborated with Tamasha to form a unique blend of performing arts.
Tamasha consists of two distinct parts, a Gan-Gavlan wherein Gan is sung to invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesh and the Gavlan describes the love stories of Gopika-s and Shrikrishna. The Vag is a folk-tale spiced up with dancing to the tunes of Lavani-s. The Gan-Gavlan first appeared during the 18th century and the Vag during the beginning of the 19th century. By the end of the 19th century, it was referred to as a Tamasha in the official advertisements that appeared in the public domain. Apart from Gan-Gavlan and Vag, there are few other forms known as Doulatjada, Medik, Mujara, Rangbaji, Chhakkad, Fars, Ree, etc.
The economy of the Tamasha-s is based on public participation and support. That is the backbone of the livelihood of the Tamasha artists. Most of the villages in Maharashtra celebrate harvesting season with the Yatra-s of local deities on a particular day of the year. It is a big opportunity for various Tamasha groups all over Maharashtra to reap the benefits. Usually, the Yatra of local deities are for up to a week or more and gives opportunities to various Tamasha groups to perform to the best of their potential against stiff competition. The monetary turnover for the Tamasha groups, during this period, is to the tune of crores of rupees. During the later half of the 20th century, Tamasha resorted to a more organised form with associations of the Tamasha Troupe-s involved in looking after the welfare of its members.

Districts/Region

Maharashtra, India.

Cultural Significance

Tamasha is a very prominent and popular form of folk theatre in Maharashtra.


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