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- 1 Language
- 2 Literature
- 3 Performing arts
- 4 Visual arts
- 5 Cuisine
- 6 Religion
- 7 Festivals
- 8 Media
- 9 See also
- 10 Further reading
- 11 References and footnotes
Hindi, Maithili, and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages, like Bhojpuri or Magadhi. Bihari languages were once mistakenly thought to be dialects of Hindi. However, more recently, they have been shown to be descendants of the language of the Magadha kingdom (Magadhi Prakrit), along with Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya.
It is difficult to ascertain the number of people who speak Bihari languages due to unreliable sources. In the urban region, most educated speakers name Hindi as their language because it is what they use in formal contexts. They may also believe this to be the appropriate response. The uneducated and the rural population of the region assign Hindi as the generic name for their language.
Despite the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, these languages have not been constitutionally recognized in India, only exception being Maithili, which is recognised under the Eighth Schedule. Hindi remains the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar. "Bihari" is actually the name of a group of three related languages—Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magahi—spoken mainly in northeastern India in Bihar. These languages were legally absorbed under the subordinate label of "Hindi" in the 1961 Census. State and national politics are thus creating the conditions for language endangerment. Hindi was first successfully spread to Bihar in 1881. In the ensuing struggle between the competing Hindi and Urdu languages, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region (Maithili, Bhojpuri and Magahi) were ignored. After India gained its independence, Hindi was again given sole official language status through the Bihar Official Language Act of 1950.
Bihar has produced a number of Hindi writers, including Janaki Ballabh Shashri, Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksh Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', Gopal Singh "Nepali", Shankar Dayal Singh and Baba Nagarjun. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, the well-known writer and Buddhist scholar, was born in Uttar Pradesh, but spent his life in "the land of Lord Buddha" - Bihar. Usha Kiran Khan, Mithileshwar, Madhukar Singh and Hrishikesh Sulabh are prominent short story writers from Bihar. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are well-known poets.
A number of Urdu scholars, writers and poets also hail from Bihar. These include Shaad Azimabadi, Jamil Mazhari, Bismil Azimabadi (poet who authored the famous patriotic ghazal 'Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai'), Maulana Shabnam Kamali (scholar, teacher, writer, and poet), Dr Prof Anjum Kamali (urdu scholar),Kaif Azimabadi, Inaam Azmi and M R Chishti,Atahar nafish
Bihar has also produced some prominent poets and authors who write in various regional languages:
- Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the most prominent authors who writes in Bengali, resided for some time in Bihar.
- The latest Indian author who writes in English, Upamanyu Chatterjee, also hails from Patna in Bihar.
- Devaki Nandan Khatri, who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century with his novels Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.
- Vidyapati Thakur, who wrote around the 14th to 15th centuries, is the most renowned Maithili-language poet In India.
- Satyapal Chandra has written many critically acclaimed best-sellers in English.
Bihar has contributed to Indian (Hindustani) classical music. The region has produced such musicians as Ustad Bismillah Khan and various dhrupad singers, like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana).
Bihar has an old tradition of folk songs, sung during important family occasions such as marriages, birth ceremonies, and festivals. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments, although the dholak, Bansuri, and occasionally the tabla and harmonium are used. Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as 'Phagua', characterised by their lively rhythms.
During the 19th century, when the standard of living in Bihar worsened under British rule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured laborers to the West Indian islands, Fiji, or 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.
Vishwa Bhojpuri Sammelan has done a project on Bhojpuri Folk (Baarah Maasa) in the last decade. This unique musical series has been released at the second World Bhojpuri Conference in Mauritius.
Drama and theatre
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Some traditional Bihari forms of theatre include the Bidesia, Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. These theatre forms originate in the Anga region of Bihar.
The modern Hindi Theatre movement reached Bihar in 1960. Satish Anand, an actor and director, helped develop Modern Hindi theatre in Bihar. He established the theatre group Kala Sangam at Patna in 1962.
The 1973 production of a play named Adhe-Adhure was considered a major event in the history of Bihari culture. The play was called a "Renaissance of theatre" in Bihar.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, Patna became the one of the most active theatre centers in India, owing to high-quality play productions directed by Kala Sangam and designed by Satish Anand. After watching some of Kala Sangam's plays, eminent theatre critic Dhyneshwar Nadkarni wrote a 1979 article in Economic Times titled "Small Town Stalwarts."
Satish Anand also introduced street theatre in Bihar during the JP Movement in 1975. Under Anand's direction, Kala Sangam presented Bihar's first street theatre production, called Juloos. Sangam's productions - held on street corners, in parks, and on roadsides - were historic in Patna. Sangam presented a total of 108 shows of Juloos in Patna and outside Bihar, to large audiences. The success of the Juloos greatly increased the theatre audience in Patna. It also motivated many political parties to start or form their own cultural groups to perform street plays.
In 1978, Kala Sangam organized the area's first theatre festival and first all-India theatre seminar. At these events, Sangam presented five plays: Andha Yug, Ashadh Ka Ek Din, Lahron Ke Rajhans, Ballabhpur Ki Roopkatha, and Singhasan Khali Hai.
In 1984, Satish Anand had evolved a new 'Bidesia Style' for modern Indian theatre. The new style used elements of traditional folk theatre from indigenous Bihari culture.
Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila region, mainly by women. Painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and other milestones of the life cycle, like birth, Upanayanam (the sacred thread ceremony), and marriage.
There are several traditional styles of painting practiced in Bihar. One is Mithila painting, a style of Indian painting used in the Mithila region of Bihar. 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 his daughter Sita's marriage to Lord Ram. Mithila painting was traditionally done on huts' freshly plastered mud walls, but today it is also done on cloth, handmade paper, and canvas. Famous Mithila painters have included Smt Bharti Dayal, Mahasundari Devi, the late Ganga Devi, and Sita Devi.
Madhubani painting mostly depicts men and their association with nature. Common scenes illustrate deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati from ancient epics. Natural objects like the sun, moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty.
Historically, the Patna School of Painting (Patna Salaam), sometimes called Company Painting, flourished in Bihar during the early 18th to mid-20th centuries. The Patna School of Painting was an offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting. Those who practiced this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting. Facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, these artisans found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during the late 18th century. Their art shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, but whereas the Mughal style depicted only royalty and court scenes, the Patna artists also started painting bazaar scenes. They used watercolours on paper and on mica. The style's subject matter evolved to include scenes of Indian daily life, local rulers, festivals, and ceremonies. This school of painting formed the basis for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. The School is an important center of fine arts in Bihar.
The first sculptures in Bihar date back to the Mauryan Empire. The Pillars of Ashoka and Didarganj Yakshi are estimated to be at least 2000 years old, and were carved out of a single piece of stone. Ancient statues are found throughout Bihar. Some of these sculptures were made from bronze, an advanced technique at that time. For example, the Sultanganj Buddha statue, estimated to be 1500 years old, is about seven feet tall and made of 500 kg of bronze, making it the largest statue of that period. Many statues, ranging from Hellenistic gods to various Gandharan lay devotees, are combined with what are thought to be early representations of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
Today, it is still unclear exactly when the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara emerged. However, evidence from Sirkap indicates that this style of art was already highly developed before the advent of the Kushans. Mandar Hill features the unique image of Lord Vishnu, from the Gupta period, in his man-lion incarnation. The image is 34 inches high and made of black stone.
The first significant architectural pieces in Bihar date back to the Vedic period. While the Mauryan period marked a transition to the use of brick and stone, wood remained the material of choice. Contemporary writers, like Chanakya in the Arthashastra, advised the use of brick and stone for their durability. However, in his writings, Megasthenes described a wooden palisade encircling the capital city of Pataliputra. Evidence of ancient structures have been found in recent excavations in Kumrahar, in modern-day Patna. Remains of an 80-pillared hall have also been unearthed.
The Buddhist stupa, a dome-shaped monument, was used in India as a commemorative monument used to enshrine sacred relics. The stupa architecture was adopted in Southeast and East Asia, where it became prominent. Many stupas, like those at Nalanda and Vikramshila, were originally built as brick and masonry mounds during the reign of Ashoka (273 BCE - 232 BCE). Fortified cities with stūpas, viharas, and temples were constructed during the Maurya empire (c. 321–185 BCE). Wooden architecture remained popular, while rock-cut architecture became solidified. Guard rails—consisting of posts, crossbars, and a coping—became a safety feature surrounding a stupa. Upon its discovery by Westerners, the stupa became known as pagoda in the West.
Temples—build on elliptical, circular, quadrilateral, or apsidal plans—were constructed using brick and timber. The Indian gateway arches, the torana, reached East Asia with the spread of Buddhism. Some scholars hold that torii derives from the torana gates at the Buddhist historic site of Sanchi (3rd century BCE – 11th century CE).
Important features of the architecture during this period included walled and moated cities with large gates and multi-storied buildings, which consistently used arched windows and doors. The Indian emperor Ashoka, who ruled from 273 BCE to 232 BCE, established a chain of hospitals throughout the Mauryan empire by 230 BCE. One of the edicts of Ashoka reads: "Everywhere King Piyadasi (Ashoka) erected two kinds of hospitals, hospitals for people and hospitals for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted."
Bihar was largely in ruins when visited by Xuanzang, and suffered further damage at the hands of Mughal raiders in the 12th century. Though parts of the Bihar have been excavated, much of its ancient architecture still lies buried beneath the modern city.
Persian influence can be seen in surviving Mughal tombs made of sandstone and marble. Surviving Mughal architecture includes Sher Shah Suri Tomb, built by Sher Shah Suri and his successor. Ibrahim Khan, Governor of Bihar and a disciple of Makhdum Daulat, oversaw the completion of Makhdum Daulat mausoleum in 1616. Another example of Mughal architecture is the building at Maner Sharif. The domed building features walls adorned with intricate designs and a ceiling full of inscriptions from the Quran.
The artisans of Bihar have proven adept at creating articles using local materials. Baskets, cups, and saucers, made from bamboo strips or cane reed and painted in vivid colors, are commonly found in Bihari homes. A special container called a "pauti," woven out of sikki grass in the north, is a sentimental gift that accompanies a bride when she leaves her home after her wedding. The weavers of Bihar have been practicing their trade for centuries. Among their products in common use are cotton dhurries and curtains. They are produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Biharsharif areas. These colorful sheets often feature motifs of Buddhist artifacts, and pictures of birds, animals, and/or flowers.
The Bihari staple food is a dish composed of roti, dal, chawal, sabzi, and achar. It is prepared from lentils, wheat flour, rice, vegetables, and pickle. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Customarily, Biharis eat a boiled rice-based lunch and roti-based dinner and breakfast. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes the mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays. The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of sattu, while chokha is made of smashed potatoes, tomatoes and brinjals.
Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Chena Murki, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna. Other salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar include Litti, Makhana and Sattu.
Historically, the foods of eastern Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar were strongly influenced by Mughalai cuisine. This resulted in the development of Bhojpuri cuisine with Bihari flavor, reflecting Bihar's unique confluence of cultures.
Some of the regions within Bihar have traditionally developed their own specialty dishes. For example, Anga is known for Chitba (a flour and sugar pancake) and Pitthow (a rice-based dish), as well as Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice. Kadhi bari is another popular favorite which consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yogurt. This dish is often eaten with plain rice.
In Mithilanchal, the food culture has traditionally been both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Cuisine from the region tends to be similar to Bengali cuisine, although it tends to use mustard oil and the five spices known as the "Paanch Phoron." Popular dishes include Machchak Jhor, a special fish curry made in a spicy mustard paste; Kankorak Chokha, a mashed preparation of roasted crab; Ramruch, a besan-based dish; and Dokak Jhor, an oyster stew cooked with onion gravy. Another traditional dish from this region is Maus, which is generally mutton, chicken, or squails (tittar/battair) in a spicy gravy, usually eaten with malpuas.
In Bihar, every aspect of life is suffused with religious significance and its manifestations abound in every corner of the state. Shrines are numerous, and religious symbols or images of deities abound. Many Biharis keep religious symbols, statues, and the like in their homes, vehicles, and offices. A typical Bihari household begins each day with religious devotion.
Most religious festivals in the region stem from Hinduism, given that it is the state's predominant religion. There are many variations on the festival theme. While some are celebrated all over the state, others are observed only in certain areas. In one region or another, festivals take place round the year. Many festival days are officially proclaimed as government holidays.
Chhath, also called "Dala Chhath," is an ancient and major festival in Bihar. It 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 Karthik Chhath is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and fasting without water for around 42 hours or more, as required for worshippers during Chhath Puja, 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. It is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstinence and a ritual segregation of the worshiper from their main household for four days. On the eve of Chhath, houses and their surroundings are scrupulously cleaned. Then the ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once at dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion resembles a carnival. For several days, ritual renditions of regional folk songs are sung. These folk songs have been carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law for generations.
Shravani Mela is an important month-long ritual observance, held along a 108-kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganj and Deoghar (now located in the state of Jharkhand.) It is held every year in the Hindu month of Shravan (the lunar month of July–August). Pilgrims, known as Kanwarias, wear saffron-coloured clothes and collect water from a sacred Ghat (river bank) at Sultanganj. They walk the 108 km stretch barefoot to the town of Deoghar to bathe a sacred Shiva-Linga. The observance draws thousands of people from all over India to the town of Deoghar.
Pitri Paksha Mela
This is a 15-day fair held on the bank of River Falgu at Gaya during Pitru Paksha every year. Pilgrims from all parts of India visit Gaya, offering pinda to honor their ancestors. According to estimates from the Bihar Tourism Department, about 500,000 to 750,000 pilgrims arrive in Gaya each year during the Pitri Paksha Mela.
Other local festivals celebrated with fervor in Bihar include:
- Teej and Chitragupta Puja
- Bihula-Bishari Puja (celebrated in the Anga region of Bihar)
- The Sonepur cattle fair, a month-long event starting approximately half a month after Deepwali. Considered the largest cattle fair in Asia, it is held at the junction of the Ganges and Gandak Rivers, in the town of Sonepur. However, new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have adversely impacted the fair's success.
- Sama Chakeva
All major festivals and celebrated in India are also celebrated in Bihar. These include holidays celebrated by Indians of various religions. Among them are:
- Islam: Eid-ul-Fitr; Eid-ul-Adha (often called Eid-ul-Zuha in the Indian Subcontinent); and Muharram
- Christianity: Christmas
- Buddhism: Buddha Purnima
- Hinduism: Diwali; Saraswati Puja; Holi
Popular Hindi newspapers in Bihar include the Hindustan Times, Dainik Jagran, Navbharat Times, Aj and Prabhat Khabar. E-papers, such as the Bihar Times and Patna Daily, have become very popular among educated Biharis, especially those living outside the region. National English dailies like The Times of India and The Economic Times are read in urban regions.
Television and radio
Several national and international television channels are popular in Bihar. DD Bihar, Sahara Bihar, and ETV Bihar-Jharkhand are the channels dedicated specifically to Bihar. In 2008, two dedicated Bhojpuri channels, called Mahuaa TV, and Purva TV were launched.
Several government radio channels exist in Bihar. All India Radio has stations in Bhagalpur, Daltonganj, Darbhanga, Patna, Purnea, and Sasaram. Other government radio channels include Gyan Vani in Patna; Radio Mirchi, also in Patna; and Radio Dhamaal in Muzaffarpur.
Bihar has a robust Bhojpuri-language cinema industry. There are also a small Maithili-, Angika- and Magadhi-language film industries in the region.
The earliest Bihari films were released in the 1960s. The first Bhojpuri film was Ganga Jamuna, released in 1961. The same year also saw the release of the first Magadhi-language film, called Bhaiyaa. In 1962, a well-received Bhojpuri film, Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo ("Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari"), was released, directed by Kundan Kumar. Three years later, the first movie filmed in significant portions in the Maithili language, Kanyadan, was released.
Over the next two decades, films were produced sporadically. In general, Bhojpuri films were not commonly made in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, though, enough Bhojpuri films had been made to comprise a small industry. Films such as Mai ("Mom," 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji ("My Brother's Wife," 1983, directed by Kalpataru) continued to have at least sporadic success at the box office. However, this trend faded out by the end of the decade, and by 1990, the Bihari film industry seemed to be defunct.
Yet the industry took off again in 2001 with the extremely popular Saiyyan Hamar ("My Sweetheart," directed by Mohan Prasad). This success was quickly followed by several other very popular films, including Panditji Batai Na Biyah Kab Hoi ("Priest, tell me when I will marry," 2005, directed by Mohan Prasad) and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala ("My father-in-law, the rich guy," 2005). In a measure of the Bhojpuri film industry's rising status, both of these films did much better business in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than mainstream Bollywood hits did. Additionally, both films, made on extremely small budgets, earned back more than ten times their production costs. The success, status, and visibility of Bhojpuri cinema has continued to increase. The industry now supports an awards show and a trade magazine, Bhojpuri City, and now produces over one hundred films per year. Many of the major stars of mainstream Bollywood cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, have recently worked in Bhojpuri films.
- Pathak Prabhu Nath, Society and Culture in Early Bihar (C.A.D. 200 – 600), Commonwealth Publishers, 1988
- Basham A. L., The Wonder that was India, Picador, 1954, ISBN 0-330-43909-X
- Nambisan Vijay, Bihar in the eye of the beholder, Penguin Books, 2000, ISBN 978-0-14-029449-1
- Singh, Shankar Dayal, Bihar: Ek Sanstkritik Vaibhav (Hindi). Diamond Pocket Books. 1999. ISBN 8171822940.
- Chitta Ranjan Prasad Sinha, Early Sculpture of Bihar, Indological Book Corp., 1980
- Susan Lubin Huntington The Origin and Development of Sculpture in Bihar and Bengal, University of California, 1972
References and footnotes
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- History of Indian languages Archived 26 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Bihari is actually the name of a group of three related languages—Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magahi—spoken mainly in northeastern India in Bihar.
- Verma, Mahandra K. "Language Endangerment and Indian languages: An exploration and a critique". Linguistic Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia.
- Brass Paul R.
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- http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0054910/ Ganga Jamuna – First Bhojpuri language film
- http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0236021/ Bhaiyaa – First Magadhi language film
- "IMDB title". IMDb. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0236358/ Kanyadan – First Maithili language film
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