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Bihar is as old as civilisation itself. Bihar is one of the states of India with culturaly most mixed population. In addition to different religious (hindu, muslim, jain, buddhists, sikhs, christians) groups, there are variations on the basis of race (aryans, dravidians, mongolians), geographical (bengalis, marwadis, gujratis, Punjabis . . .) and lingusitic (bengali, urdu, nepali, marwadi, gujarati, nepali in addition to bhojpuri, maithili, magahi and vajjika) basis. Since ancient era it has been home for extraordinary intellectual work. Associated with 'samudra manthan' of vedic era, Sita of Rama and karna of Mahabharata, Bihar has a rich cultural background to be proud of. The present society reflects its cultural prosperity adequately.
Present Bihar is dominated by a mixture of hindu and muslim religious culture and rituals. Other religions like buddhism, jainism and sikhism, though deeply associated with the past of Bihar , don't have much influence at present. Christians did make inroads in the tribal area of Bihar but that was seperated with Jharkhand in 2000 and present Bihar has a meagre number of christians. Altogether Bihar has impression of all the religious compartment but predominantly of hindus and muslims who have been living together with peace except few minor deviations.
People are mostly shy, introvert, self content, easily accessible, honest and helping. Illeteracy, corruption, administartive failure, perrenial flood, lack of employment and resulting poverty; all are reflected on the peoples behaviour and attitude. People are usualy confident of themselves, respect the law and are afraid of that. They apparently accept the things easily at first but inside their heart they continue questioning till they come out of it or they find a it true.
Presently most of the Biharis keep struggling for their livelyhood and so importance to the culture seems to be reduced in their day today life but at the core of their heart they live it with every breath. Now I shall describe the cultural agendas one by one-
Bihar has usual festivals of dominant religions. Festivals unique to Bihar are CHHATH, SAMA CHAKEBA (dominantly in the mithila region).
Poverty has left most of the biharis unmindfull of the type of attire and their cultural attire. Usual Bihari hindu would wear Dhoti and muslims will wear lungi/ kurta pyajama. But presently with westernisation of life and effect of mixing of cultures, even a hindu adult can be seen with lungi/ kurta pyajama. recent advancement is Punjabi style cloths on special occaisions like marriage in addition to western cloths. Silk has been the prefered cloth and Bhagalpur silk is famous for its delicacy. CHUDI (bangles) made of lac (LAH/ LAKH) is speciality of Bihar and Jharkhand. Sindur, Chudi (specialy of lac) and coloured saree are the hall mark of married women whereas widows are not supposed to wear them though the tradition and its strictness is fading with modernisation.
Hinduism itself gives lots of choices/ variations in food habit. Predominantly people are vegeterians and even hotels are the same. Non- vegeterianism is still less. There are fiew villages with vegeterianism reaching to 100%. Muslims take beef which hindus don't due to religious reasons! Muslims don't eat pork (pig flesh) due to religiou reasons. Buddhism and jainism promote vegeterianism. Roti, Daal, Sabji is the usual bland diet. Chana (Bengal Gram) and its flour (SATTU) makes special ingredient of vegeterian food.
poverty has taken its toll here as well and most of the poor biharis are left to live in KACHCHA GHAR made of clay/ grass. frequent fire incidents washes away vilages! But well to do Biharis do have palaceal houses in as well as outside Bihar. There is not much difference with other parts of India.
The beautiful stories of the ancient times are depicted in the exquisite handicrafts of Bihar .
One of the art forms of Bihar , the Madhubani School of Painting, has lately received much attention and poularity. Madhubani, in the heart of the Mithila region, had a rich tradition of wall paintings done by the village women (a source of income of the village women as popularised by Indira Gandhi) with vegetable dyes. An artist encouraged them to try their wall paintings on paper and since then Mithila paintings gained ground. These line paintings in primary colors normally depict village scenes, human and animal forms, gods and goddesses. It was popularised and promoted by the late primeminister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
Is a very popular School of Painting of Bihar . This offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. With the decline of the Mughals, the Delhi artists migrated to Murshidabad. Some of them came to Patna and practiced their craft following a style that gradually came to be known as the Patna Qalam. The style is famous for its soft colors and the use of hand made paper or mica sheets. Most of these paintings depict the life of the people of Bihar.
The simple tribal people of Bihar express their creative joy through the Chhau dance, which was originally a war dance, preformed in order to perfect fighting techniques. It has, over the years, evolved into a narrative ballet.
Jat-Jatin Dance of the Mithila region is performed by the females (Harijans?) where one person performs the role of Jat (the husband) and Jatin (the wife) wearing masks and goes through the story of their life. Specialy played on the night when the groom has gone for marriage with most of the males of the village.Bidesia
Bidesia is another form of dance drama that is extremely popular in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar .Vidyapati Songs
"DESIL BAINA SAB JAN MITTHA" - "a local made gift is sweet to all" was the slogan of vidyapati when India was under muslim control and sanskrit was losing ground with Tulsi das, Kabir das and Meera bai coming up with literature in the local languages. The region of Mithilanchal is famous for the songs of Vidyapati those can be heard even now in the evenings from several homes in the region.
Bhojpuri folksongs are popular in Bihar and second to none when it comes to beats and rhythm.
As a hallmark of old culture, crafts are part of every day life of Biharis and can been seen nude. Villages around Bodhgaya create fascinating handicrafts. Fantastic bamboo articles, leather works, statues made up of white metal, wooden toys and baskets made from cane and bamboo are available in plenty in every reason of Bihar.
Bhagalpur is famous for its silk industry and is considered to be one of the best silk producing centres in India , in manufacturing silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products. This silk is of a distinct and special type. It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.
Other crafts of Bihar include Sujni embroidery, lac bangle making, and creation of decorative and utility items of Seenki (a local dried grass).
Bihar is also famous for the cotton dhurries and curtains produced by artisans in central Bihar , particularly in the Patna and Bihar-Sharif areas.
It is glorious, colourful and ancient a land. Here lived the mythological king Janaka of Videha, vedic period Rishi Yangyabalka, Ramayan famed Maharshi Valmiki and Kautilya, the author of Arthashastra, the first treatise on modern economics. This had been the land where great religious leaders like Buddha, Mahavir and Govind Singh were born and great kings like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and Sher Sah ruled. Here in the land flourished the ancient seats of learning - Nalanda and Vikramshila. `Ahimsa' was propagated from here and Gandhiji launched his civil-disobedience movement against the mighty British.
Located in the central and lower Gangetic plateau in the North-eastern Sector of India the State is surrounded by The Himalayan land of Nepal in North, Uttar Pradesh in the West and the newly formed Jharkhand State in South and East. The name Bihar is perhaps a derivative of the Buddhist word "Vihar" which finds mention in Nawakat-E-Nasiri of 1263 and also in Kirtilata of the great poet Vidyapati in 1390.
Ancient Bihar comprised of independent States like Magadha (land of mauryas) , Anga (state gifted to karna by duryodhana), Baishali (the first ever democratic country of the worls), Mithila (the place of sita) etc., which had shaped the socio-cultural heritage of India . But, it is Brihadratha, the Magadha King first established the Magadha empire in the region which in course of history came to be known as Bihar . The Sisunagas followed the Magadha Kings around 6th century B.C. Bimbisar and his son Ajatsatru annexed Anga and expanded the kingdom upto Punjab . In order to be away from the Baishali State , they erected their Capital at the confluence of the Ganges and Sone river in Pataligram which was known as Puspapur or Pataliputra. If Sisunag kings strengthened Magadha empire, it is the Maurya and Gupta kings made ancient Bihar a prosperous and enlightened State as known from the history. With the fall of Gupta dynasty to the invaders from the middle east during 7th & 8th century, Bihar lost its past glory and it no longer remained as the political and cultural centre of India . Pataliputra, Munger were annexed by the Pal Kings of Bengal. Gaya , Bhagalpur , Rohtas etc. became small independent States. The mighty Magadh empire disintegrated. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar from the Pal kings, but it was difficult for Delhi Sultanate to administer. Bihar continued to be under provincial administration except during the period of Sher Shah. It is Akbar, the great Mughal emperor during 1575-76 annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire and gave Bihar a stable administration making it a part of Bengal . However, with the decline of Mughal empire, Bihar passed into the hands of Nawabs of Bengal.
With the rise of British ascendancy in Bengal during 1757-65, Bihar 's political life was much influenced. Jharkhand, Singhbhum, Santhal Praganas remained away from the local politics. The tribal chiefs remained independent of Muslim Subedars. At this juncture Lord Clive arrived at Patna in 1757 and in the decisive war of Buxar in 1765 the Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was granted to the East India Company by the Mughal emperor Shah Alam. However the people of Bihar never accepted the British. The Santhal Pragana revolt of 1781-82, the Hoj agitation of 1820-21, Kol agitation of 1831-33, finally shaped into the revolt of 1857 led by Kunwar Singh. This was the beginning of national freedom movement in India . Formation of Brahma-Samaj in 1868, publication of Bihar Times in 1894 demanding a separate State regulated further the political course in Bihar .