|Linguistic and historical region|
Maithil-speaking region of India
Mithila region of Nepal
|About 8 crore (2011)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Bangladesh||Primarily Muslim migrants|
|Maithili and dialects Angika and Vajjika|
|Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism|
Maithils are natives of districts south of the Ganges near Bhagalpur and Monghyr, most of North Bihar and the adojining Terai of Nepal. All castes living in Mithila and speaking Maithili are Maithils. Most of North Bihar (except for several western districts) centered near Darbhangā-Madhubani, some areas south of the Ganges (including Bhāgalpur and Munger) and the region from Rauthatta to Biratnagar in Nepal (centered near Janakpur, in southeastern Nepal) form modern Mithila. This area was known as the kingdom of Videha, with its capital at Mithila (or Mithilanagar). The site has not been identified by archaeologists; however, folklore ascribes it to Janakpur in Nepal. The kingdom appears in the Ramayana; according to it and other ancient texts, it is the birthplace of Sita.
The region's common language is Maithili, which is listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. It is an ancient language, from which Bengali and related scripts have evolved. The oldest example of this Mithilakshar or Tirhuta script is a Shiva temple inscription in Tilkeshwarsthāna (near Kusheshwarsthāna, in Darbhangā district), in which it is mentioned in Eastern Māgadhi Prākrit that the temple was built on "Kāttika sudi" (Kārtika Shukla pratipadā, or the first tithi in the bright half of the Hindu lunar month of Kārtika) in "Shake 125" (AD 203) on the day after Diwāli (still regarded as auspicious for installing an icon in a temple). The script of the inscription is little different from modern Maithili script. However, during the 20th century most Maithili writers gradually adopted Devanagari script for Maithili. Some traditional pandits still use Tirhutā or Mithilākshara script for pātā (ceremonial letters related to important functions, such as marriage). Fonts for this script were developed in 2003. Maithils are descended from an ancient society which has created works of Maithili literature.
Boiled rice is customarily eaten with lunch, and roti with breakfast and dinner. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets are followed, and regional specialties exist. Machchak jhor is a fish curry prepared with mustard paste. Maus is mutton or chicken in a spicy sauce and is generally eaten with malapuas. Kankorak chokha is a puréed dish of roasted crab (kankor). Dokak jhor is an oyster stew with onions. Chitba (a flour-and-sugar pancake) and pitthow, tilba and choora (dishes made from Katarni rice) are specialties of the Anga region.
Kadhi bari—fried soft dumplings made of besan (graham flour), cooked in a spiced sauce of yogurt and besan—is a popular favorite with rice. Chura (or chiwda)—rice beaten with yogurt and sugar—is also enjoyed. Arikanchanak tarkari is a preparation of marinated, sun-dried colocasia leaves, steamed in a mustard sauce. Daail-jhinguni (fried ribbed gourd, cooked with lentils and grains), ramruch (a besan-based dish unique to the region) and goidila (a sauce made from green peas and flavourings, eaten with rice or roti) are other specialties.
All dishes in a meal are served together, instead of in courses. A traditional Maithil wedding meal emphasises dairy products, as illustrated by the saying “Aadi Ghee aur Ant Dahi, oyi Bhojan k Bhojan kahi” ("A meal starts with ghee and ends with yogurt"). The daily diet consists of breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening snack with tea. A popular breakfast is chura-dahi (beaten rice with creamy yogurt) seasoned with salt, green chillies and pickles; a spicy mixed-vegetable dish may also be served. During summer chura is eaten with mango pulp, and is known as chura aam. Poori-aloo dum is another breakfast dish enjoyed with jalebi (rounds of deep-fried, fermented flour batter dipped in a sugar syrup). Other breakfast dishes include chini wala roti, chilha (pancakes) and suzi k halwa (semolina porridge). Evening snacks include chura ka bhuja (rice sautéed with sliced onion, chopped green chillies and green peas) and masalgar murhi (puffed rice mixed with chopped green chillies, onion, coriander leaves, salt and mustard oil). Varieties of kheer and other sweet dishes are prepared for dessert. One of the best-known is makhanaak kheer (with lotus seeds, milk and nuts). Malpua is another popular sweet, differing slightly from the malpua of northern India. Preserved fruits include ammath (layered mango pulp, sun-dried and cut into small pieces), kumhar ke murabba, papita ke murabba and dhatrikak murabba. Mithila cuisine is incomplete without paan (betel leaves). According to an old saying, paan, maach and makhan (betel leaves, fish and lotus seed) are not found in paradise; therefore, one should enjoy them on earth. A sweet betel leaf is flavoured with fennel, cardamom, clove, rose petals, sugar and other ingredients, and chewed after a meal.
Maithil regionalism unites Maithils from both sides of the border between India and Nepal. Since they share a common history, language, culture and ethnicity, they feel part of one Mithila. Positive events on one side of the international border are celebrated on the other side, and negative events are mourned on both sides.
Maithils in Indian side are officially known as Bihari. Discrimination against the Maithil community in India is not based on race, caste or color but on geography. The economic gap between the Mithila region and the other area of Bihar south of the Ganges is apparent. The Mithila region is relatively undeveloped, and the government has no concrete plan to address the region's flood problems. It is considered one of India's poorest regions, with a high rate of migration.
On 26 April 2012, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) submitted a proposal for 11 federal units in Nepal in which Mithila was not mentioned. The proposal was opposed by local residents, who submitted a memorandum to Mithila district headquarters requesting a Mithila federal unit in Nepal. A signature campaign was launched throughout the region in which local residents actively participated. On 30 April, local Maithils were conducting a peaceful protest on Ramananda Chowk in Janakpur. About 10 am, the protest was bombed; five people were killed, three more died later and more than forty were injured. Maithili film actress Anju Jha was one of those killed in the bombing; she had become popular in Mukhiyaa Jee several months earlier.
Later that day a little-known armed political group, Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (Democratic Terai Liberation Front), claimed responsibility to local media in a text message. Rajan Mukti was the primary suspect. The blast in Janakpur and its victims angered local residents, who protested peacefully.
- Dr. Arun C. Mehta. "District-wise Population (Census) Data: 2001 Census, India". Educationforallinindia.com. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
- "CENSUS 2011 : Nepal's population is 26,620,809". Allvoices.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- Chaudhary, Pranava (May 22, 2011). "US scholar's project of encoding Tirhuta script into digital media". The Times of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- "जनकपुर कांड की निंदा, शोकसभा 9205721". Jagran.com. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "बिहार में तेज़ी से पनप रहा है तेलंगाना | जनतंत्र". Janatantra.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "BBC Nepali - समाचार - माओवादी संघीय प्रस्तावप्रति आपत्ति". Bbc.co.uk. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- Himalayan News Service (28 April 2012). "Locals oppose Mithila division". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
- "4 killed in nepal bomb blast 9199126". Jagran.com. 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- Manesh Shrestha (April 30, 2012). "5 die in Nepal blast, little know group claims responsibility". The Times of India. Retrieved August 3, 2013.