Sangli Ganapati mandals pick lezim over DJs, keep folk dance form alive

  • | Friday | 22nd September, 2023

KOLHAPUR: The prominent Ganesh mandals in Sangli city are increasingly returning to the legacy of lezim, instead of opting for the blaring DJs and high-decibel music systems, and engaging troupes of the traditional folk dance form during the processions in the praise of their favourite god. Long before the DJs and dhol tasha pathaks began leading the Ganapati processions, lezim pathaks were the most common and popular musical performances during such events all over Maharashtra. Most schools would have lezim training and troupes that would participate in processions during Ganeshotsav and Gudi Padwa. Lezim originated during the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as a form of exercise for his mavlas (soldiers). It later evolved into a dance form requiring the performers use a wooden idiophone with thin metal discs.The dance form gets its name from the musical instrument called Lezim. It has a special sequence in which the performers move four steps forward and two steps behind in a rhythm with movements such as stepping, hopping, squatting and bending. Around 20-25 steps are performed in sync.Older members of Ganesh mandals pass on lezim training to next genThe mandals in Sangli are continuing with the tradition of training children, youth and adults alike in lezim dance. The mandals have four categories of participants—children, youth, women and the elderly. Sanjay Chavan, head of Visava Mandal of Gavbhag area in Sangli city, said, I am involved in the lezim procession for three decades. It began when I was a Standard II student. We now have nearly 250- 300 people trained in lezim. This year, we performed lezim during the procession on the first day of Ganeshotsav. Mandal members said the participants of the lezim troupes were people residing near the mandals and there are even families with three to four generations performing lezim. The training takes place in the narrow lanes of old city areas and in the talims well past midnight. The training is passed on from the elder members of the mandals to the next generation. Many trained lezim performers also help mandals train their members. In a way, the training and practice are similar to the dhol tasha pathaks that are now common in different parts of the state. Bapu Pawar, a senior citizen from Sangli, said the two mandals — Visava and Balbhim Vyayam Shala Mandal — have continued with the lezim tradition. The other mandals are also adopting it. These two consciously stayed away from using high decibel sound systems for processions. The use of traditional music instruments and folk art forms also eases the pressure on the police monitoring the processions.

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