Largest city :
880/km² (2,279/sq mi)
Hindi, Urdu, Angika, Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili.
Bihar is a state of the Indian union situated in central eastern India. Its capital is Patna. To Bihar's north is the country of Nepal. On its other three sides Bihar is surrounded by the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the west, Jharkhand to the south and West Bengal to the east. Bihar lies in the very fertile Indo-Gangetic Plain. Culturally, it is a part of the Bhojpuri heartland of India. Bihar is also the birth place of the first president of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and legendary freedom fighters like Babu Kunwar Singh, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Basawon Singh (Sinha), Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha,Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan , Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha and Maulana Mazharul Haque.
History of Bihar
Bihar was called Magadha in ancient times. Its capital Patna, then known as Pataliputra, was the center of the first empire built in India, that was by Nanda Dynasty, followed by Mauryan empire, which dominated the Indian subcontinent from 325 BC to 185 BC. Emperor Ashoka was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities, were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India.
Religions Originating in Bihar
Bihar is the birthplace of several religions, including Buddhism and Jainism. Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya. Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali. Indeed Jain monks & nuns wandered in the towns and forests of then-Magadha. They called it vihara and thus Bihar got its name from the vihara of jain sages.The tenth guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna, the capital of Bihar.
Geography & climate
Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It has several major rivers: Ganga, Son, Bagmati, Kosi, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Falgu. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. The Himalayan mountains are to the north, in Nepal. To the south is the Chota Nagpur plateau, which was part of Bihar until 2000 but now is part of a separate state called jharkhand.
Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius; 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (40 to 45 degrees Celsius; 104 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit). April to mid June are the hot months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October & November and February & March have pleasant climate.
Places to see
- Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Bhagalpur , Vikramshila ,Sultanganj.
- Vaishali and Pawapuri, Bhagalpur.
- Patna Sahib, Patna City, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh.
- Sultanganj(Bhagalpur), Vishnupad Temple at Gaya, Konch Shiva Temple, Tara Mandir at Mahisi, Patan Devi at Patna, Mahavir Temple at Patna, Mundesvari at Bhabua, Sun Temple at Deo, near Aurangabad, Varah Temple at Harihar Kshetra, Shiv Temple at Singhesarsthan(Madhepura), Thawe Ma durga temple (Gopalganj) Gopalmandir, Bahraua siv Hathwa (gopalganj), Hanuman Mandir (Siwan), Bhavnath Temple (Siwan), Aranya Devi temple (Ara),Gadhdevi Ma (Madhauda, Saran), Ambika Bhawani (Aami, Saran) and Janki Mandir in Sitamarhi.
- Bihar-E-Sharif, Sultanganj, Bhagalpur.
- The landscape is dotted with historic sites. Important ones are Patna, Bhagalpur, Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Pawapuri,Chapra Chirand, a site famous for remnants of Neolithic phase of civilization Champaran, and Sasaram Hathwa(gopalganj). Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, Patna.
The Jamalpur Workshop, established on 8th. February,1862, enjoys the distinction of being the oldest and the largest Locomotive workshop in India.
Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state (recently Maithali is also included as one of the official languages of the state, although the usage of the language for official purposes is negligible), while the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari Languages - Maithali, Angika, Magadhi or Bhojpuri.
Mithila painting is a style of Indian painting practised in the Mithila Darbhanga, Madhubani region of Bihar, where powdered rice is coloured and is stuck. Tradition states that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita to Lord Ram. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. Mithila painting mostly depict men and its association with Nature & scene and deities from ancient epics like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi and Sararwati.
Hinduism is practiced by 83.2% of the population and forms the majority religion in the state. Islam is practiced by 16.5% of the population, and other religions less than 0.5%. Also there are 20,780 followers of Sikhism.
Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated twice a year: once in the summers, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once around a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. The latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and Chhath being an ardous observance requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, is easier to do in the Indian winters. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstenance and ritual segregation of the worshipper from the main household for two days. On the eve of Chhath, houses are scrupulously cleaned and so are the surroundings. The ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once on the crack of the dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion is almost a carnival, and besides every worshipper, usually women, who are mostly the main ladies of the household, there are numerous participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshipper. Ritual rendition of regional folk songs, carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, are sung on this occasion for several days on the go. These songs are a great mirror of the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
While Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama after the battle with the demon king Ravana, Chhath is an ancient festival supposedly started by the King of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpur region in Bihar) named Karna. Karna is a powerful character in the epic Mahabharata. Chhath is also celebrated by a great number of people in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervour in Bihar.
Among ritual observances, the month long Shravani Mela held along a 108 kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganj and Deoghar (now in Jharkhand state) is of great significance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in the Hindu month of Shravan, that is the lunar month of July-August. Pilgrims, known as kanwarias, wear saffron coloured clothes and collect water from a sacred Ghat at Sultanganj, walking the 108 km stretch barefooted to the town of Deogarh to bathe a sacred Shiva-linga (sacred rock). The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deoghar from all over India.
The Sonepur cattle fair is a month long event starting approximately half a month after Deepawali and is considered the largest cattle fair in Asia. It is held on the banks of the Sone River in the town of Sonepur. The constraints of the changing times and new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have eroded the once-upon -a-time magic of the fair.
Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of India are celebrated in Bihar, such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (often pronounced Eid-uz-Zoha in South Asia), Muharram, Ram Navami, Rath yatra, Rakhi, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja, Divali, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Chitragupta puja, and several other local festivals as well.
Folk Songs & Music
Music of Bihar
Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments, though Dholak,Bansuri and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used.
Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as 'Phagua', filled with fun rhythms.
During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured labourers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area. Dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patna.
Dances of Bihar
Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.
Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are Bidesia, Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. All of these theatre forms originate in the Anga or Ang area of Bihar.
Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There is also a small Maithili and Angika film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo."Lagi nahin chute ram" was the alltime superhit Bhojpuri film which was released against "Mugle Azam" but was a superhit in all the eastern and northern sector. Nadiya Ke Par is the most famous Bhojpuri movie till date.
Mr. Ramayan Tiwari, popularlier know as Tiwari was the first major Bihari Film actor who acted as villain and mythological characters in more than 200 films,he was followed by his son Bhushan Tiwari, also a renowned actor who acted as villain in more than 100 films.
First Maithili Film was Kanyadan (released in 1965 & Directed by Phani Majumdar) had a significant portion in Maithili language.
Cuisine of Bihar
The cuisine of Bihar for the Hindu upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, although some of the lower Hindu classes do eat meat. The Muslims in Bihar however do generally eat meat as well as vegetables. Islamic culture and food with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar unique existence of mixed culture. Famous food items include Biharee Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kufte, Shabdeg, Yakhnee Biryanee, Motton Biryani, Shaljum Gosht, Baqer Khani, Kuleecha, Naan Rootee, Sawee ka Zarda, Qemamee Sawee, Gajar ka Halwa, Ande ka ZfraniHalwa.
The staple food is bhat, dal, roti, tarkari and achar. It is prepared from rice, lentils, wheat flour, vegetables, and pickle. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes lthe mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays.
The most favourate dish among biharis is LITTI- CHOKHA. Litti is made up of SATTU and CHOKHA is of smashed pottato, tomatto, and brinjal.
Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice also are special preparations of Anga.
Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yogurt and besan. This dish goes very well over plain rice.
Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ka Lai, Laktho, Parwal ka Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna.
Several other traditional salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu.
There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cooking, as well, although some of the names of the dishes may be the same as those found in other parts of North India. Roll is a typical Bihar non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.