Biharis

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Bihar Children 2.jpg

The Biharis (About this soundlisten ) is a demonym given to the inhabitants of the Indian state of Bihar. Bihari geniuses can be separated into three main ethnic groups, Bhojpuris, Maithils and Magahis.[1]

Also, Biharis can be found throughout North India, West Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra, and in the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. During the Partition of India in 1947, many Bihari Muslims migrated to East Bengal (later East Pakistan and subsequently Bangladesh).[2][3] Bihari people are also well represented in the Muhajir people of Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) because of Partition,[4] as well as the recent relocation of some Bihari refugees from Bangladesh to Pakistan.[5]

History[edit]

Bihar is one of the longest inhabited places in the world with a history going back to the Neolithic age.[6] Since that time, Biharis have long been involved in some of the most important events in South Asian history. Biharis were the founders of many great empires based out of Magadh including the Maurya Empire and the Gupta Empire.[7] Both of these empires had their capitals in Pataliputra (modern-day Patna).

Two of India's major religions also have their origins in Bihar. Gautama Buddha who was the founder of Buddhism, achieved enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was born in Vaishali in North Bihar.[8]

Clothing[edit]

The traditional dress of Bihari people includes the dhoti-mirjai (a modified form of the flowing jama)[9] or the kurta (replacing the older outfit of the dhoti and chapkan which is a robe fastened on the right)[10] for men and Saree for women. In everyday life women wear saree or Kameez-Salwar. The saree is worn in "Seedha Aanchal" style traditionally.[11] Nevertheless, Western shirts and trousers are becoming popular among the both rural and urban male population.[11] And Salwar-Kameez for women in urban Bihar. Jewelery such as rings for men and bangles for women are popular. However, there are some traditional Bihari jewelries like "Chhara", "Hansuli", "Kamarbandh", etc.[11]

Language and literature[edit]

Maithili language in Tirhuta and Devanagari scripts

Hindi is the official languages of the State.[12] Maithili (61 million speakers including Bajjika dialect which has 11 million speakers in India),[13] and Urdu[14] are other recognised languages of the state. Unrecognised languages of the state are Bhojpuri (60 million), Angika (30 million) and Magahi (20 million).[13][15] Bhojpuri and Magahi are sociolinguistically a part of the Hindi Belt languages fold, thus they were not granted official status in the state.The number of speakers of the Bihari languages is difficult to count because of unreliable sources. In the urban region, most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region regards Hindi as the generic name for their language.[16]

Despite of the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, they have not been constitutionally recognized in India, except Maithili which is recognised under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar.[17] These languages was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of Hindi in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerment.[18] The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the sole official language of the province. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region – Bhojpuri, Maithili and Magahi were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950.[19] Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar on 16 August 1989. Bihar also produced several eminent Urdu writers including Sulaiman Nadvi, Manazir Ahsan Gilani, Abdul Qavi Desnavi, Paigham Afaqui, Jabir Husain, Sohail Azimabadi, Hussain Ul Haque, Dr. Shamim Hashimi,[20] Wahab Ashrafi[21] etc.

Bihar has produced a number of writers of Hindi, including Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksh Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', Gopal Singh "Nepali" and Baba Nagarjun. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, the great writer and Buddhist scholar, was born in U.P. but spent his life in the land of Lord Buddha, i.e., Bihar. Hrishikesh Sulabh and Neeraj Singh (from Ara) are the prominent writer of the new generation. They are short story writer, playwright and theatre critic. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are the well-known poets. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the greatest writers in Bengali, resided for some time in Bihar. Upamanyu Chatterjee also hails from Patna in Bihar. Devaki Nandan Khatri, who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century on account of his novels such as Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Vidyapati Thakur is the most renowned poet of Maithili (c. 14–15th century). Satyapal Chandra[22] has written many English bestseller novels and he is one of India's emerging young writer.

Castes and ethnic groups[edit]

Bihar's major ethnic group is Indo-Aryan including Bhojpuris, Maithils and Magahis.[23] Bihari society follows a very rigid caste system, which influences daily life and politics.[24]

The 2011 Census of India indicated that Scheduled Castes constituted 15.50% of Bihar's 10.4 crores population.[25][26] The census identified 21 of 23 Dalit sub-castes as Mahadalits.[27] The Mahadalit community consists of the following sub-castes: Bantar, Bauri, Bhogta, Bhuiya, Chaupal, Dabgar, Dom (Dhangad), Ghasi, Halalkhor, Hari (Mehtar, Bhangi), Kanjar, Kurariar, Lalbegi, Musahar, Nat, Pan (Swasi), Rajwar, Turi, Dhobi, Chamar and Dusadh[28] The Paswan caste was initially left out of the Mahadalit category, to the consternation of Ram Vilas Paswan.[29][30]Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes) constituted around 1.3% of the Bihari population.[31][32][33] They include the Gond, Santhal and Tharu communities.[34][35] There are about 130 Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) in Bihar.[36][37]

Castes of Bihar[38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46]
Caste Population (%) Notes
OBC/EBC 51% Yadavs - 12%
Kurmis - 4%
Kushwaha(Koeri, Maurya, Shakya, Saini, Etc.) - 10%
(EBCs - 25%[36][47][48][49][50] -includes,[51][52][53] Teli-3.2%))
Mahadalits*+ Dalits(SCs) 16%[54][55] includes Dusadh- 5%, Musahar- 2.8%[56]
Muslims 16.9%[57] includes (Ashrafi) Sayyid, Sheikh Mughal Pathan castes[58][59]
Forward caste 15%[60] Bhumihar-6%
Brahmin -5%[61]
Rajputs - 3%
Kayastha -1%
Adivasis(STs) 1.3%[62][63]
Others 0.4% includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains

Religion[edit]

According to the 2011 census, 82.7% of Bihar's population practiced Hinduism, while 16.9% followed Islam.[64]

Religion Population
Hindu 82.7
Muslim 16.9
Others 0.4

Bihari diaspora[edit]

Pakistan and Bangladesh[edit]

In 1947, at the time of Partition, many Muslim Biharis moved to what was then East Bengal adjacent to their Bihar province in eastern India.

However, when East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh in December 1971, the Biharis were left behind as the Pakistani army and civilians evacuated and the Bihari population in Bangladesh found themselves unwelcomed in both countries. Pakistan feared a mass influx of Biharis could destabilise a fragile and culturally mixed population, and Bangladeshis scorned the Biharis for having supported and sided with the West Pakistan during the war.

With little or no legal negotiation about offering the Biharis Pakistani citizenship or safe conduit back home to their native Bihar in India, the Biharis (called "stranded Pakistanis" by some Bangladeshi politicians) have remained stateless for 33 years. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has not addressed the plight of the Biharis. An estimated 600,000 Biharis live in 66 camps in 13 regions across Bangladesh, and an equal number have acquired Bangladeshi citizenship. In 1990, a small number of Biharis were allowed to immigrate to Pakistan.

Pakistan has reiterated that as the successor state of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), as well as having greater cultural and linguistic similarities with Bengalis, Bangladesh should accept the Biharis as full citizens. Pakistani politicians and government officials have refused to accept these nearly 300,000 stranded Pakistanis of Bihari origin due to inability to absorb such a large number of immigrants at the moment.

In May 2008, a Bangladeshi court ruled that Biharis who were either minors in 1971 or born after 1971 are Bangladeshi citizens and have the right to vote.[65][66] As a result of the ruling, an estimated 150,000 of the 300,000 Biharis living in Bangladesh are eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.[66] Although the court ruling explicitly said that the Biharis are eligible to register to vote in the December 2008 elections, the Election Commission closed its rolls in August 2008 without enrolling them.[67]

Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius and South Africa[edit]

A large number of people from present-day Bihar travelled to various parts of the world in the 19th century to serve as indentured labours on sugarcane, cocoa, rice, and rubber plantations in the Caribbean, Fiji. Mauritius, and Natal, South Africa.

A majority of Indo-Mauritians are Bihari Mauritians.[68] Most of the Mauritian Prime Ministers were Indo-Mauritians of Bihari descent.[69]A majority of Indo-Caribbeans are of Bihari descent, while Indo-Fijians are mostly descendants of the Awadh region in Uttar Pradesh as well as Bihar.

Bihari sub-nationalism[edit]

According to social scientist Dr. Shaibal Gupta, the beating of students from Bihar in Mumbai in October 2008, has consolidated Bihari sub-nationalism.[70]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]