The name Bihar derived from the word 'Vihara'means monastery. It was a great religious center for Jains, Hindus and Buddhists. From the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD Bihar was ruled by a succession of rulers and major empires. In the 3rd century BC Chandragupta Maurya ruled from the great city of Pataliputra (patna).His grandson Emperor Ashoka succeeded him. The Magadha dynasty rose to glory during the reign of the Guptas in 4th and 5th centuries. The dynasty was followed by the Palas of Bengal who ruled until 1197.The Muslim rulers also left indelible mark on the region from the 12th to 17th century.
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. It must be mentioned here that the boundaries of ancient Mauryan empire extended up to the present day Afghanistan which was unparelled in Indian history.
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. Mythological Goddess Sita was born in Sitamarhi.
The political, administrative, and economic life also greatly shaped by some of the greatest account of these field like that of Chanakya and Meghasthenes. Culturally art, architecture, sculpture of Mauryan and Gupta's have great influences on many other styles that developed later on. In the field of education and knowledge Bihar's contribution is praiseworthy because of its ancient universities at Nalanda and Vikramasila. The inscriptions of Ashok, his Dhamma, and other features like Ashokan pillar have shaped the Indian everyday life. The music, paintings, dance, and songs of Bihar have always been a driving force of the Indian way.
|Area||94163.00 Sq.Kms. (2001 Census)|
|Population||8,28,78,796 ( Provisional ) (2001 Census)|
|Official Languages||Hindi, Urdu & Local Dialects (Bhojpuri, Magahi,Maithili)|
North: Nepal South: Jharkhand East: West Bengal West: Uttar Pradesh
Bihar Is A State With People Deeply Inclined Towards Their Religions And Culture. And This Shows In The Number Of Festivals Celebrated In The State. The Festival Of Bihar, Whether They Are Tribal Festivals Or Cultural Festivals, Has Celebrations With Something Special That Is Above All Our Imaginations. Like Everywhere Else, Festivals In Bihar Too Are A Time For Social Gathering, Enjoyment, And New Beginnings. Most Of The Festivals In Bihar Have Been Carried On Since The Time Bihar Was Under Vedic Religion, So These Festivals Still Have Interesting Legends Related To Them. Even The Famous Sonepur Cattle Fair Is Said To Recreate The Legend Of Gajendra Moksha.
Chhath Puja Is One Of The Main Festival Of People Of Bihar. Chhath Puja Is Dedicated To Sun God And Worshiping Is Done By Everyone Without The Difference Of Cast Or Creed. It Is Celebrated Right After Diwali Festival. The Best Place To Experience Chhath Puja Is Bragaon Near Nalanda Which Is Noted For Its Sun Temple. Unlike Other Festivals Which Are Full Of Exuberance And Expansive Celebrations, Chhath Puja Is More Mellowed Down Festival For Prayers. It Is More Of Thanks Giving To Sun God. One Day Before The Chhath Puja, People Gather On The Banks Of River Ganga And Clean Themselves. They Keep A Fast Till The Late Evening. After The Chhath Puja, A Grand Feast Consisting Of Rice, Puris, Bananas, Coconut And Grapefruits Is Served. On The Next Day, It Is Mandatory To Keep A 24 Hour Fast Where Not Even A Glass Of Water Is Allowed. Women Cleanse All The Utensils In The Home. They Then Go To River Bank To Pay Their Homage To Sun God. It Is Only After The Prayers And Taking A Bath In The River Is The Fast Considered Over.
Legend Apart, The Famous Sonepur Fair In More Of A Cattle Trading Centre Where Incredible Number Of Birds And Cattle Are Brought From Different Parts Of The Country. Besides, The Bewildering Array Of Wares Are On Sale And Add To This The Numerous Folk Shows About Which The Bbc Once Remarked, "there's Nothing Like The Sonepur Cabaret." The Time To Start Is Very Early In The Morning When The Fog Is Suddenly Pierced By The Sun And The Huge Gathering Has Just Emerged From The Holy Dip In The Cold Absolving Waters. The Mela That Lasts Upto A Fortnight, Provides Enough Time To Talk To The Parrots, Watch The Elephants Being Bathed Leisurely, Followed By Ear Splitting Trumpets And Then The Artists Working Up With Colourful Designs To Decorate The Elephants As If The Pachyderm Has Been Tatooed All Over, See The Horses Being Tested For Their Speed And Stamina, Big Bulky Buffaloes Being Milked And Likewise All Other Animals Demonstrating Their Skill, Strength And Productivity. By Midday, It Is The Cacophony Of Strong Decibels Pouring In From All Corners As The Huge Gathering Becomes Denser With More And More People Adding To The Sound And Sight Of The Landscae. Ash Smeared, Saffron Clothed Holy Men Blow Their Conches And Bang Their Gongs. Loudsspeakers, From Various Folk Shows And Jugglers Rent The Air Together With The Unison From The Animals. Much Before The Sun Sets In, Flames And Fumes Of Dung Fire Burning At Different Places Appear To Screen The Sky In A Very Amusing Way, As If Some Medieval Army Has Just Camped For The Night. And It Is Time To Share A Gossip With One Of The Villagers Who May Better Summarise The Stock And Sale Of The Cattles For The Day. Zesty Snacks Together With Tea Comes In From The Open Air Restaurant.
The Rainy Month Of Sravana When There Is Danger Of Death From Snake Bite, People Appease The Snake God By Offering Milk During Nag Panchmi. The Prime Centre Of Naga Worship Is Rajgir And Mahabharata Describes This Place As The Abode Of Serpents And Excavations Have Revealed Numerous Objects Used In Serpent Cult. In Fact Naga Worship Is Wide Spread Through Out India.
Famous Makar Sankranti Mela Is Another Festival Unique To Rajgir In The Month Of Paus, Corresponding To Mid January. Devotees Make Flower Offerings To The Deities Of The Temples At Hot Springs And Bathe In The Holy Water. Another Historic Place Associated With Fifteen Day Long Makar Sankranti Mela Is The Mandar Hills In Banka District. Puranic Legends Accounts For A Great Deluge Which Witnessed The Creation Of A Asura That Threatened The Gods. Vishnu Cut Off The Asura's Head And Piled Up The Body Under The Weight Of The Mandar Hill. The Famous Panchjanya - The Sankh (counch Shell) Used In The Mahabharat War Is Believed To Have Been Found Here On The Hills. Traces, Akin To Serpent Coil Can Be Seen Around The Hill And It Is Believed That The Snake God Offered Himself To Be Used As A Rope For Churning The Ocean To Obtain The Amrit (nectar).
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 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.
Patna Qalam 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 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.
Bidesia Is Another Form Of Dance Drama That Is Extremely Popular In The Bhojpuri-speaking Region Of Bihar.
The Region Of Mithilanchal Is Famous For The Songs Of Vidyapati (famous Poet Of Early Medieval Age) 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.
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. 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.
Bihar, One Of The Largest States In India, In Terms Of Area As Well As Population, Is Known For Its Association With Lord Buddha. A Land-locked State, It Falls Mid-way Between West Bengal In The East And Uttar Pradesh In The West And Stands Bounded By Nepal In North And By Jharkhand In South. It Served As A Center Of Power, Learning And Culture In Ancient India And Now, Is Regarded As A Major Tourist Destination. Apart From Its Varied Attractions, The State Is Also Known For Its Luscious Cuisine, With Sweets Forming A Major Specialty. If You Want To Know More About Bihari Cuisine I.e. The Traditional Food Of Bihar, Make Use Of The Information Provided In The Lines Below.
When The Talk Is About Bihari Cuisine, How Can One Forget The Laddoo Of Maner. Laddoo Is The Name Given To A Sweet-ball Made That Is Made From Gram-flour, Sugar And Ghee. Though You Will Find Laddoos In Every Sweet Shop Of Bihar, The Ones Made In Maner, About 30 Km West Of Patna, Are The Best.
Silao Village, Situated About 15 Km From Biharsarif And 8 Km From Rajgir, Is Known For Its Ancient Tradition Of Khaja Making. A Sweetmeat Prepared With Maida (wheat-flour), Sugar And Ghee, It Is Available In Many Varieties - Chandshahi, Round, Palvidar And Gandhi Topa. Amongst These, The One With Rectangular Shape Is The Most Popular.
Belgrami Is Another Sweet Preparation Of Bihar, Which Is Made From Cheese, Sugar And Ghee. The Place In Bihar That Is Most Famous For This Sweetmeat Is Udwantnagar, Which Falls Between Arrah And Buxar.
Gaya Is Not Only Famous For Its Association With Lord Buddha. It Is Also Known As The Place With Tilkut And Anarsa As Its Specialty. While Tilkut Is Made From With White Sesame Seeds (til) And Sugar, Anarsa Comprises Of A Combination Of Rice Flour, White Sesame Seeds And Sugar. The Ramna Road Of Gaya Is The Place Where You Should Head To, For Tasting These Sweets.
If You Happen To Visit Bihar Anytime In The Future, Make Sure To Taste The Luscious Malpuas That Form A Specialty Of The State. A Malpua Is Prepared From A Combination Of Maida, Milk, Banana, Grated Coconut, Cashew Nut, Raisin, Sugar, Water And Green Cardamom, Fried In Ghee.
Barh Is A Small Town In Patna District That Lies Between Bakhtiarpur And Mokama. It Is Famous For Laai, A Ball Or Cake-shape Sweet That Is Prepared With 'khobi' Or 'ramdana' Seeds, 'khoa' And Sugar.
Sonpapdi Is A Sweet For Which The Entire State Of Bihar Is Popular. Still, It Forms A Specialty Of The Towns Of Buxar And Munger. Sonpapdi Is Prepared By Combining Sugar, Gram-flour And Ghee.
Perukia, For Which Chhapra Town Of Bihar Is Famous, Is A Cake-like Preparation. It Is Prepared By Mixing Sooji (semolina) Or Khoa With Sugar And Wrapping The Mixture In Thin-leaves Made From A Mix Of Maida, Water And Ghee. The Resultant Sweet Is Then Deep Fried In Ghee And Served.
Runi-saidpur, Which Falls On The Muzaffarpur-sitamarhi Route, Is The Town That Is Famous For Its Balushahi. The Sweet Comprises Of A Specially Treated Combination Of Maida (wheat Floor) And Sugar, Which Is Cooked With Ghee.
If You Have Come To Bihar And Not Tasted Kheer-makhana, Then Your Trip Is As Good As Incomplete. It Is A Sweet Dish Prepared With Milk, Sugar And Makhana, Considered To Be A Specialty Of The Darbhanga Region Of North Bihar.
Shakarpara And Thekua Are The Sweets Made From Maida (wheat Floor) And Sugar. They Are Prepared Only On Special Occasions, By Straining The Combination Of Maida And Sugar In Ghee.
In Context Of The Traditional Food Of Bihar, Dalpuri Is The First Name That Comes To Mind. It Is Basically A Type Of Bread, Made Of Salted Wheat Flour, Which Is Filled With Boiled-crushed Gram-pulse That Has Been Fried With Special Spices. Though Mostly A Domestic Preparation, It Can Be Had In Restaurants As Well As From Roadside-vendors.
Litti Is Another Main-course Dish That Forms A Part Of Bihari Cuisine. It Is Nothing, But Wheat Flour Cake That Has Been Salted And Baked. Litti Is Filled With Sattu (fried Gram Flour) And Some Special Spices And Served With Ghee.
Baingan-ka-bharta, Though Not A Traditional Bihari Dish, Can Be Commonly Found In The Bhojpuri Speaking Belt Of North-western Bihar. It Basically Comprises Of Baked Brinjal, Treated With Spices.
Bangle Making Of Bihar Is Largely Centered Around The Region Of Muzaffarpur. It Is A Very Lucrative Small Scale Industry Of The Region. The Artisans Involved In Bangle Making Collect Their Raw Material From The Nearby Forests, Mainly Lac And The Natural Colors Used In The Making Of These Colorful Roundels. Bright And Brilliant Colors Are Typically Used In Bangles. They Range From Vermilion To Bright Yellow, From Resplendent Reds And Purples To Shining Golds. The Artisans From Muzaffarpur Specialize In The Making Of A Special Kinds Of Bangles Called The Lahathi. They Form An Integral Part Of Bihar's Bangle Making Tradition. These Lac Bangles Are Wonderfully Decorated In Bright Colors Usually Orange And Yellow And They Are Striped Exquisitely. Often Small Mirror Like Glass Pieces Are Adorned On The Bangles.
Stone Works In Bihar Have A Rich Tradition Dating Back To The Pre-christian Era. Bihar's Stone Works Are Both Of Decorative And Utility Character. The Base Of Stone Works In Bihar Are Centered Around The Pattharkatti Region Of Atri In Gaya. However, Some Artisans Of Gaya Also Practice The Art And Have Been Doing So For Hundreds Of Years.
It Is A Virtual Wonder Of Bihar Handicrafts. It Transforms The Simplest And The Most Common Of Things To The Most Wonderful Objects, As If By Magic. This Wonder Is Executed By The Extremely Efficient Artistry Of The The Sikki Women. Bihar's Sikki Craft Is A Product Of The Mithila Region Of Northern Bihar. It Is Intrinsically Connected To The Cultural Life Of Bihar. Sikki Craft Objects Are Usually Employed In Making Baskets, Bags, Hats And Even Intricate Animal, Bird And Human Figures.