Culture of Bihar
Bihar multitudinous elements of populations, each with its own traditions, ethics, philosophy, manners and modes of life; its tongue and language with its own forms and phonetics, grammar and vocabularies; its beliefs and practices, and its religions, deeply rooted in the social milieu and woven in the texture of society and culture.
Hindi, Maithili and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages – Bhojpuri, Magadhi, 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 Uttar Pradesh but spent his life in the land of Lord Buddha, i.e., Bihar. Hrishikesh Sulabh is the prominent writer of the new generation. He is short story writer, playwright and theatre critic. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are the well-known poets. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the greatest writers in Bangla, resided for some time in Bihar. Of late, the latest Indian writer in English, 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
Hinduism: is the main religion of the state, most of the festivals stem from it. There are many variations on the festival theme. While some are celebrated all over the state, others are observed only in certain areas. But Bihar being so diverse, different regions and religions have something to celebrate at sometime or the other during the year. So festivals take place round the year.
Buddhism: Buddhism is very closely integrated with Bihar. Gautam Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya.
Sikhism: As the tenth Guru of the Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh was born patna. It is one of the holiest city in Sikhism. It was also honoured by visits from Guru Nanak in 1509 as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1666.
Jainism: Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali around sizth century B.C.
Hinduism is practiced by 83.2% of the population and forms the majority religion in the state. Islam is practiced by 16.5% of the population, and other religions less than 0.5%.
Fair and Festivals
Major festivals in bihar are: Chhath (Oct.- Nov.), Jeutia, Teej, Godhan, Buddha Purnima, Shrawani Purnima (Kanwar Festival: when Pilgrims collect holy water from the Ganga at Sultanganj and offer it to Lord Shiva at Deoghar (Jharkhand), Madhu Shravani of Mithila, Pitripaksha, Shrawani Fair of Sultanganj and Harihar Kshetra (Sonepur) Cattle Fair is one of the biggest Cattle fair in Asia.
The cuisine of Bihar for the Hindu upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, but eating non-vegetarian food is also popular. In Bihar people generally eat boiled rice and daal etc. and no Roti during lunch and Roti is eaten in night with vegetables. The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of dough stuffed with sattu (ground powder coming from roasted brown chickpeas) then boiled in water. It is then fried in oil, but little oil is used since it has been pre-boiled. The other way of cooking Litti is grilling it on red hot coal. Chokha is made of mashed potatoes, fried onions, salt, cilantro, and carrom seeds. Litti is also accompanied with ghee and channa (small brown chickpeas with onions and masala).
Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ke Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ki Lai, Laktho, Parwal ki Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut.Tilkut and Anarsa from gaya is world famous and LAI from Dhanarua is also famous. Gurahi Laddu is also famous from Bhabua. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna. Several other traditional salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu. Khaja from Silaw, Nalanda is very famous in whole of state. Islamic culture and food, with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar’s unique confluence of cultures. Famous food items include Biharee Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kufte, Shabdeg, Yakhnee Biryanee, Motton Biryani, Shaljum Gosht, Baqer Khani, Kuleecha, Naan Rootee, Sawee ka Zarda, Qemamee Sawee, Gajar ka Halwa, Ande ka ZfraniHalwa, etc.
Bihar has contributed to the Indian (Hindustani) classical music and has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan, who later migrated out of Bihar. Dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana), who were patronised by the Zamindars of Darbhanga and Bettiah respectively, have produced maestros like Ram Chatur Mallik, Abhay Narayan Mallick, Indra Kishore Mishra.
Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. and the most famous folk singer has been Padma Shri Sharda Sinha. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments like Dholak, Bansuri and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used. Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as ‘Phagua’, filled with fun rhythms.
Arts and crafts
Madhubani painting is a style of Indian painting practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar. Madhubani painting mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings.
Manjusha Kala or Angika Art is an art form of Anga region of Bihar. Notably artist Jahar Dasgupta born in Jamshedpur, Bihar which is presently under state Jharkhand.
The artisans of Bihar have been very skillful in creating articles using local materials. Baskets, cups and saucers made from bamboo-strips or cane reed are painted in vivid colors are commonly found in Bihari homes. A special container woven out of Sikki Grass in the north, the “pauti”, is a sentimental gift that accompanies a bride when she leaves her home after her wedding. Bhagalpur is well known for its seri-culture, manufacture of silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products. It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.