Maharashtra's diversity of physical features and geography is
reflected in her people and culture.
every major is represented in the state. The Deccan Plateau in Central
Maharashtra is largely populated by tribal groups. The Bhils, Mahadeo
Kolis, Gonds and Warlis are the largest tribal communities. On the
northwestern coast, the Warlis continue their frugal, reflective
existence, worshipping the mother goddess. Warli myths reveal that
death came upon the human race as a result of the humiliation of
Mother Earth. The Warlis appease this goddess of creative energy, the
corn goddess and the goddess of trees and plants. Their death songs
attempt to unravel the mysteries of life and death, revealing their
simple awe of nature in all its innocence.
The Warlis, aboriginal settlers from the foothills of the Sahyadris,
in Thane district, north of Mumbai, live in a small cluster of huts
called padas. These houses generally have one door and no windows at
The Gonds, a people of central India, are spread between the forested
areas of the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and
Orissa. They have distinctive customs and speak a Dravidian language
called Gondi. Today, many Gond youth have taken on the dominant
language of their regions and cultural variations between tribal
communities is expanding. Where their forest homes are still intact,
however, their lifestyles remain unchanged and such communities
provide anthropologists with a window into a past.
Although Maharashtra has a distinctive Hindu flavour, it has always
had a tradition of
secularism. Jewish communities have established several synagogues
which are still active in Mumbai, Pune, Alibag, Pen, Thane and
Revdanda. Mosques and dargahs, churches and Zoroastrian fire temples,
all find the space to function. A sprinkling of Jain and Buddhist
temple cover the region.
Hindus form the majority of Maharashtra population and the culture of
Maharashtra reflects that. There are many temples in Maharashtra some
of them being hundreds of years old. These temples are constructed in
a fusion of architectural styles borrowed from North and South India.
The temples also blend themes from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cultures.
The temple of Vitthala at Pandharpur is the most important temple for
the Varkari sect. Other important religious places are the
Ashtavinayak (eight temple sites of Ganesha), Bhimashankar which is
one of the Jyotirlinga (12 important shiva temples). Amongst the cave
art and architecture is the famous tourist attraction of Ajanta and
Ellora Caves near Aurangabad. A famous example of Mughal architecture
is the tomb of the wife of Aurangzeb called Bibi Ka Maqbara also
located at Aurangabad.