Mithila, Nepal

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This article is about the proposed state in Nepal. For the ancient region, see History of Mithila. For the proposed state in India, see Mithila, India.
Mithila
मिथिला/মিথিলা
South eastern region of Nepal
Skyline of Mithila
Country    Nepal
Historical region Mithila
Linguistic Division Maithili language
Capital City Janakpur
Time zone Nepal Time (UTC+5:45)

Mithila (Devanagri मिथिला Tirhuta মিথিলা ), or the eastern Terai, is a region in southeastern Nepal. The name also refers to the ancient kingdom of Videha, which extended from the foot of the Sivalik Hills in the north to Nepal's border with India in the south. In general terms, it is the Maithili-speaking region of Nepal. Mithila was split between India and Nepal in 1816, after the British East India Company and the Gurkha King of Nepal signed the Sugauli Treaty.[1]

In January 2012, the State Reorganization Commission of Nepal proposed to divide Nepal into 11 states, one of which would be Mithila.[2]

Geography[edit]

The region is surrounded by:[3]

The region contains a total of 948 VDCs (Village Development Committees), including 14 municipalities. The province will cover about 14,058.7 km2. of Nepal’s total area of 1,47,181 km2. with an estimated 6.65 million inhabitants, it is by far the most populous of the new proposed provinces.[4]

Transport[edit]

Roadways[edit]

Janakpurdham lies 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the Mahendra Highway. Hindu mythology identifies Janakpurdham as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mithila.[5] At its eastern end this road joins an Indian highway that connects to Bagdogra and Siliguri.[6] At its western end it enters the Indian state of Uttarakhand.[5] The Mahendra Highway is the longest in the country, at 1,000 kilometres (620 mi).[5]

The Tribhuvan Highway does not cross as much of the Mithila region as the Mahendra Highway, but it is equally important as it connects the region to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on one side and to the Indian part of Mithila on the other side.[7]

The Biratnagar to Hile road connects to the Mahendra Highway at Itahari and links Dharan and Dhankuta. Hile and Basantpur[disambiguation needed] are gateways of the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area and Makalu Barun National Park.[7]

Railways[edit]

Main article: Nepal Railways

A few other railway projects are under progress in the region. All these projects are of Indian Railways.[8]

Airways[edit]

Mithila region has 3 airports:

Districts: languages and population[edit]

Maithili is the most commonly spoken language of the region and the mother tongue of the majority of its population.

Culture[edit]

Temples and festivals[edit]

Janki Mandir, Janakpur, Nepal.
Madhubani painting by Bharti Dayal

Mithila is known for the Janaki Mandir of Janakpur. This temple, one of the biggest in Nepal, was built in 1898 (1955 in the Nepali calendar) by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwar of Tikamgarh.[9] It is also called "Nau Lakha Mandir" after the cost of construction, said to be nine (nau) lakh. The oldest temple in Janakpur is Ram Mandir, built by the Nepali soldier Amar Singh Thapa.[9] Pilgrims also visit the more than 200 sacred ponds in the city for ritual baths. The two most important, Dhanush Sagar and Ganga Sagar, are located close to the city centre in Janakpur. The Vivah Mandap temple is where Lord Rama and Sita are said to have been married. It is situated next to the Janki Mandir.

Major religious celebrations include the Hindu festivals Deepavali and Vijayadashami,[9] followed by the spectacular Chhath Puja (sun worship) six days after Deepavali. Both Deepavali and Chhath are celebrated with a carnival atmosphere.

The festival of Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March). Other festivals honor Rama and Sita:

  • Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama, in March–April (9th Day of Chait month of the Maithili calendar)
  • Janaki Navami, the birth anniversary Maa Sita in late April or early May (9th Day of Baisakh month of the Maithili calendar).[10] And
  • Vivaha Panchami or Vivaha festival re-enacts the wedding of Rama and Sita at the famous Vivah Mandap temple on the fifth day of the waxing moon in November or early December (after Kartik Purnima), where Rama broke the bow of Shiva.

Pilgrims stay in one of the city's five good hotels or small guest houses. There are also five fully equipped dharmashalas (cheap lodgings for pilgrims).

Art[edit]

Maithili women are known internationally for their traditional art, especially their paintings on pottery, walls and courtyards. Madhubani painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns. There are paintings for each occasion and festival such as birth, marriage, holi, surya shasti, kali puja, Upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony), and durga puja.

Entertainment[edit]

Cinemas in the region show new and old films in Maithili, Nepali and Hindi languages. Hollywood films are less popular. Stage shows, concerts and plays are occasionally organized by the local clubs and organizations. Mithila Natyakala Parishad (MINAP), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting Mithila culture, is a prominent promoter of the performing arts.[11]

History of Mithila[edit]

Ancient history[edit]

Ramayana King Sirdhwaj Janaka, 24th king of the Janaka Dynasty, ruled Videha. There had been 54 kings in this dynasty.[12] Janakpur in Dhanusa District was the capital of Videha kingdom.

After the end of the Janaka dynasty, Mithila was divided into 8 states and power was decentralized to the local representatives elected by the people. During this period, south-west Mithila was known as the Vajji Republic or the Great Union of Vajji. Licchavis were the most powerful and influential out of the 8 states of the Union.

Even the powerful kingdom of Magadh had to conclude matrimonial alliances in 519 B.C. with the neighboring estates of the Licchavis. Ajatshatru invaded Vaishali and extended his sway over Mithila. It was at this time that Patliputra (the modern Patna) was founded at the village of Patali on the banks of the sacred river Ganga. Ajatshatru built a strong fortress to keep vigil over the Licchavis on the other side of the river. Vaishali was a center of religious renaissance. Baso kund(Nepal) was the birthplace of Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankar and a contemporary of Lord Buddha, and attracted visitors.

From the visit of the Hieuen Tsang’s till the rise of the Pala dynasty, Mithila was under the control of King Harsha Vardhan. After 647 A.D., the region passed on to the local chiefs; the Pala kings continued to maintain control of Mithila until 1019 A.D. There was a brief interlude during which Chedi kings of Central India ruled but they were replaced by the Sena dynasty later in the 11th century.

Islamic invasion[edit]

Between 1210 and 1226, Ghais-u-ddin Iwaz, the ruler of Bengal, was the first Muslim invader of Mithila. He, however, could not succeed in conquering the kingdom but extorted tributes. It was in 1323 that Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq established his control over Mithila.[citation needed]

The history of Mithila would remain incomplete without a reference to the Simraon dynasty (in the Western part of Mithila i.e. Champaran) and its founder Nanyupa Deva who extended his power over the whole of Mithila and Nepal.

During the regime of Harasimha Deva, the last king of the dynasty, Tughlaq Shah invaded Mithila in 1323 and gained control over the territory. Tughlaq Shah handed over the management of Mithila to Pt. Kameshwar Thakur. Thus, the sovereign power of Mithila passed from the Hindu chiefs to the Muslims but the Hindu chief continued to enjoy complete autonomy.[13]

Mithila under the administration of Bengal[edit]

By the end of the 14th century, Mithila was controlled entirely by the kings of Jaunpur and remained so for nearly a century until Sikandar Lodi of Delhi defeated the king of Jaunpur. Meanwhile, Hussain Shah, the Nawab of Bengal had expanded his control over greater regions, which now included Mithila. The emperor of Delhi advanced against Hussain Shah in 1499 and thus gained control of Mithila. The power of the Nawabs of Bengal began to wane and with the decline and fall of Mahood Shah, north Bihar, including Mithila, became part of the Mughal Empire. Though Mithila had been annexed, the petty chieftains continued to exercise effective control over this area till the days of Daud Khan, the Nawab of Bengal. Daud Khan had his stronghold at Patna and Hajipur; after his fall, a separate Subah of Bihar was constituted under the Mughal dynasty, which included Mithila.

British rule and Sugauli Treaty[edit]

In 1816, the British East India Company signed a treaty with the Gurkhas of Nepal, which ended a two-year-long Anglo-Nepali war between British India and Nepal. Under this treaty, India conceded part of Mithila to Nepal.[1] This region was popularly called Eastern Terai or Mithila in Nepal.[14]

Since the 1816 Sugauli Treaty, Nepal controls the smaller northern portion of Mithila, while India holds the larger southern part.

Status of Mithila in Nepal[edit]

Nepal presently (May, 2012) does not have a permanent constitution. The writing of a new constitution is going on by the Constituent Assembly. The most complex issue before constitution writers is believed to be the formation of Federal States in the country. In 2010 Constituent Assembly of Nepal made a proposal to have 14 states in the country. While in 2012, State reorganization commission made another proposal to have only 11 states (including 1 non-territorial province).

Proposed federal units in Nepal, suggested by the constituent Assembly of Nepal

14 State Model by Constituent Assembly[edit]

On 23 January 2010, the Nepal Constituent Assembly proposed a 14 state model for Nepal in which the Mithila region (under the name Mithila-Bhojpura-Koch-Madhesh) would have been granted statehood. This model was rejected by the SRC in 2012.[15]

11 State Model by State Reorganization Commission[edit]

Proposed federal units in Nepal, suggested by the State Reorganization Commission of Nepal in 2012 showing 10 states. The 11th state is non-territorial state for Dalits

A 9 member team, headed by Dr Pariyar, called State Reorganization Commission or simply S.R.C. was given the task of constructing a federal model for Nepal.

On 31 January 2012, the SRC gave its final report to the Government. The report suggested 10 states and 1 non-territorial state; in that report, Mithila (Mithila-Bhojpura-Koch) was also suggested to be made a federal unit.[2] The yellow colored region on the southeast is Mithila.

Districts of Mithila[edit]

As per the above two proposals, the state will have 11 districts.[16] In order from west to east:

  1. Parsa District (Westernmost district)
  2. Bara District
  3. Rautahat District
  4. Sarlahi District
  5. Mahottari District
  6. Dhanusa District (Capital City Janakpur)
  7. Siraha District
  8. Saptari District
  9. Sunsari District
  10. Morang District
  11. Jhapa District (Eastern-most districy)

Nomenclature of provinces in Nepal[edit]

Nepal had been a unitary state with centralized system of governance. For the first time, Nepal is being transformed into a federal state. Naming the federal units is a primary concern. The following factors were considered when determining the province names:[17]

  • Ethnic, communal, lingual, historical background and cultural identity
  • Geographical and natural features
  • Popularity and lack of offensive qualities
  • Names that create a feeling of regional and national unity
  • Names that are related to the identity and ownership of the people of the region
  • Places of distinct reputation may also be used as names.

Considering the above factors, Mithila is referred as Mithila-Bhojpura-Koch-Madhesh by the Constituent Assembly of Nepal; while SRC refers it as Mithila-Bhojpura-Koch. Although the name has not yet been finalized, there have been complaints against the name being lengthy, difficult to pronounce and odd.[18]

Notable people from Mithila region[edit]

The following are notable residents (past and present) of Mithila (Nepal).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bansh, Hari and Jha, Jayanti (January–March 2005). "A Ritual for Ladies Only". Hinduism Today Magazine. Accessed 5 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b "SRC (State Reorganization commission) submits report to govt proposing 11 states" Nepalnews.com. 31 January 2012. Accessed 5 May 2012.
  3. ^ Federalism dialogues, series-3 (2011). Mithila. Kathmandu: CCD-2011. pp. iii. 
  4. ^ Center for constitutional dialogue, Series 3 (2011). Mithila-Bhojpur-Koch-Madhes. Kathmandu: CCD-2011. p. 14. 
  5. ^ a b c David Reed, James McConnachie. "The rough guide to Nepal". Nepalganj p. 361, Mahendranagar p. 374, Janakpur p. 388, Kankarbhitta p. 400, Itahar p. 442 (Google book). Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  6. ^ Woodhatch, Tom. "Nepal handbook". Western Nepal p. 29, Junctions p. 44, Length p. 238, Overview p. 373, Nepalganj p. 394 -398, Terai east of Sapt Kosi p. 401, Janakpur p. 436, Eastern Nepal p. 450, (Google books). Retrieved 2012-05-09. 
  7. ^ a b Highways in Nepal
  8. ^ Nepal, India agree on five rail projects
  9. ^ a b c "Tourism in Janakpur stays undeveloped" by Rastriya Samachar Samiti. The Himalyan Times, 13 April. Accessed September 2008
  10. ^ "Janakpur | Travel". NepalVista.com. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 2012-12-31. 
  11. ^ Mithila Natyakala Parishad (MINAP)
  12. ^ "A Brief History of Muzaffarpur". Muzaffarpur.bih.nic.in. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  13. ^ "Tirhut – The Land of Maa Sita – About Tirhut". Tirhutlive.in. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  14. ^ Paul R., Brass (1974). Language religion and Politics in North India. Lincoln, N.E: iUniverse Inc. p. 55. ISBN 0-595-34394-5. 
  15. ^ Nepal to adopt 14 provinces under federal system
  16. ^ Series-3, Federalism Dilaogue (2011). Mithila-Bhojpura-Koch-Madesh Province. Kathmandu, Nepal: Center for constitutional dialogue (2011). pp. 13, 14, 17, 21, 22, 33, 35, 36. 
  17. ^ Constituent Assembly, Restructuring of the State and Distribution of State Power Committee (2066 (Nepali Year)). Report on Concept Paper and Preliminary Draft, 2066. Kathmandu: Singha Durbar. pp. Page no– NA.# Chapter 5 # Topic no 5.1 – Besis of Name Choice. 
  18. ^ Federalsim Dialogues, Series 3 (2011). Mithila-Bhojpura-Koch-Madhesh. Kathmandu: CCD-2011. pp. 36 # Anexure III # Topic no 8. Queries raised regarding nomenclature and demarcation of the province. 
  19. ^ Ram Baran Yadav
  20. ^ "Nepal parliament elects new PM". AFP via Google News. 
  21. ^ "Nepal PM quits in live TV address". BBC News. 30 June 2010. 
  22. ^ Madhav Kumar Nepal
  23. ^ Suhasini, Lalitha (19 July 2005). "Destiny’s child". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2009-01-26.