Definitions

Bihar

Bihar

[bee-hahr]
Bihar or Behar, state (2001 provisional pop. 82,878,796), 36,420 sq mi (94,328 sq km), E central India. Patna is the capital. Bihar is bounded by Nepal (N) and by Indian states—West Bengal (E), Jharkhand (S), and Uttar Pradesh (W). Bihar is a rich agricultural area, crossed by the Ganges River. Rainfall, frequently inadequate, is supplemented by irrigation. Rice is grown where possible; corn, wheat, barley, sugarcane, tobacco, and oilseed are important crops. Jute is the main cash crop in the east. Transportation lines run east and west, linking northern and central India with the Bengal ports. Despite its agricultural wealth, Bihar is India's poorest state, with high illiteracy and infant mortality rates. The population, c.80% Hindu, is unusually homogeneous for India. Bihari, an Indo-European language, is predominant. Bihar is governed by a chief minister and a cabinet responsible to a bicameral legislature with one elected house and by a governor appointed by the president of India.

Bihar was part of the ancient kingdom of Magadha, and contains many sites associated with the Buddha's early life, including Bodh Gaya, the site of his enlightenment. Muslims occupied it in 1193 and the Delhi sultans in 1497. In 1765 the British took over Bihar and merged it with Bengal. The province of Bihar and Orissa was formed in 1912; Bihar became a separate province in 1936. About 3,150 sq mi (8,160 sq km) situated along Bihar's eastern boundary were transferred to West Bengal state in 1956. The southern half of Bihar became the state of Jharkhand in 2000. Violence, intimidation, and fraud have often accompanied elections in the state, and direct federal rule was imposed during the election period in 1995.

Bihar Sharif or Bihar, city (1991 pop. 201,323), on a tributary of the Ganges River, was the former capital of Magadha. It has many Muslim sites of pilgrimage.

State (pop., 2001: 82,998,509), northeastern India. Bordered by Nepal and West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh states, it occupies 38,301 sq mi (99,200 sq km); its capital is Patna. Its limits are nearly the same as those of the ancient kingdoms of Videha and Magadha. In the 4th century AD the area came under the Gupta empire, whose capital was at Pataliputra (Patna). Overcome by the Muslims circa 1200, Bihar was annexed to Delhi in 1497. Taken by the British in 1765, it was made part of Bengal. The area was the scene of revolts against the British in the mid-19th century and of Mohandas K. Gandhi's nonviolent movement in the early 20th century. Bihar was made a province of British India in 1936; in 1950 it became a state in independent India. It is one of India's least urbanized states, and most of its population engages in agriculture. In 2000 the state of Jharkhand was created from Bihar's southern districts.

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Bihar (Hindi:बिहार, Urdu: بہار, bɪhaːr, ) is a state in eastern India. Bihar, which is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size 38,202 sq mi (99,200 km²) and 3rd largest by population, has close to 85 per cent rural population. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below 25 years of age, which is the highest in India. It is a land–locked state, although the outlet to the sea through the port of Kolkata is not far away. Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengal in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradesh in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by the country Nepal in the north and by Jharkhand in the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two unequal halves by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages (once considered to be dialects of Hindi) - Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili or Angika.

Ancient Bihar, also called Magadha, was a center of power, learning and culture in Ancient India. From Magadha arose India's first empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's greatest pacifist religion, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of northern South Asia under a central rule . Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important center of Indian civilization.

Today Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human and economic development terms, , whilst ethnic Biharis living in other states of India are victims of racist hate crimes and prejudice. Economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government like freight equalisation policy , its apathy towards Bihar , lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state) , and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company . The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance. The improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.Indian and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity for sustainable economic development, and as such have shown interest in investing in the state.

Etymology of the name

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit vihār (Devanagari: िवहार), means "abode". The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, which were the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval period.

History

Bihar was called Magadha in ancient times. From Magadha arose two world religions, Jainism and Buddhism. The first Indian empire, the Maurya empire, originated from Magadha, with its capital at Patliputra (modern Patna) in 325 BC. The Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of India and the world. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Gupta Empire, which again originated from Magadha in 240CE, is referred to as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and Indian philosophy. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors. Historians place the Gupta dynasty alongside with the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Roman Empire as a model of a classical civilization. The capital of Gupta empire was Pataliputra, present day Patna. The Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities, were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India.

Buddhism flourished till 400CE. The period between the 400 CE and 1000 CE saw gains by Hinduism at the expense of Buddhism..

Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, captured Bihar in 12th century. Many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred during the invasion.

The region saw a brief period of glory for six years (1540 -1546 CE) during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road. The economic reforms carried out by Sher Shah, like the introduction of Rupee and Custom Duties, is still used in the Republic of India. He revived the city of Patna, where he built up his headquarter. During 1557-1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire. With the decline of the Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence. The 10th and the last Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna.

After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa.

Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India's First War of Independence (1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the struggle for India's independence. It was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi launched his pioneering civil-disobedience movement, Champaran Satyagraha. Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters. Champaran Satyagraha received the spontaneous support from many Biharis, including Rajendra Prasad, who became the first President of India and Anugrah Narayan Sinha who ultimately became thefirst Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.

In North and Central Bihar, peasants movement was an important side effect of the freedom movement. This movement aimed at overthrowing the feudal (zamindari) system instituted by Britishers. It was being led by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati and his followers Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Rahul Sankrityayan, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Baba Nagarjun and others. Pandit Yamuna Karjee along with Rahul Sankritayan and a few others started publishing a Hindi weekly Hunkar from Bihar, in 1940. Hunkar later became the mouthpiece of the peasant movement and the agrarian movement in Bihar and was instrumental in spreading the movement.

Bihar's contribution in the Indian freedom struggle has been immense with outstanding leaders like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sri Krishna Sinha, Dr.Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Brajkishore Prasad, Mulana Mazharul Haque, Jayaprakash Narayan, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Basawon Singh, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, Yogendra Shukla, Baikuntha Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, Pandit Yamuna Karjee and many others who worked for India's freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses. Khudiram Bose, Upendra Narayan Jha "Azad", Prafulla Chaki and Baikuntha Shukla were active in revolutionary movement in Bihar.

The state of Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in the year 2000. 2005 Bihar assembly elections ended the 15 years of continuous RJD rule in the state, giving way to NDA led by Nitish Kumar. Bihari migrant workers have faced violence and prejudice in many parts of India, like Maharashtra, Punjab and Assam.

Geography & climate

Geography: Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It is drained by the Ganges River, including northern tributaries Gandak and Koshi originating in the Nepal Himalayas and the Bagmati originating in the Kathmandu Valley that regularly inundate parts of the Bihar plains. Other Ganges tributaries are the Son, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Falgu. The Himalayas begin at foothills a short distance inside Nepal but influence Bihar's landforms, climate, hydrology and culture. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. To the south is the Chota Nagpur plateau, which was part of Bihar until 2000 but now is part of a separate state called Jharkhand.

Climate: Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius; 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (with average highs around 35-40 Celsius; 95-105 Fahrenheit). April to mid June are the hot months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October & November and February & March have pleasant climate.

Demographics

Bihar has close to 90 per cent rural population. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below 25 years age, which is highest in India. 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%. Since ancient times Bihar has attracted migrants and settlers including Aryans, Bengalis, Turks from Central Asia, Persians, Afghans and Punjabi Hindu Refugees during the Partition of India in 1947.

Government and administration

Bihar State Symbols
State bird India roller
State animal Gaur
State flower Kanchnar
State tree Peepal
The constitutional head of the Government of Bihar is the Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. The real executive power rests with the Chief Minister and the cabinet. The political party or the coalition of political parties having a majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the Government.

The current incumbent, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, succeeded Rabri Devi, wife of the Former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (also known as Laloo Prasad) (currently Cabinet Minister for Railways) in 2005.

The head of the bureaucracy of the State is called the Chief Secretary. Under him is a hierarchy of officials drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and different wings of the State Civil Services. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice. Bihar has a High Court which has been functioning since 1916. All the branches of the government are located in the state capital, Patna.

The state is divided into 9 divisions and 38 districts, for administrative purposes. The various divisions are Patna, Tirhut, Saran, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Munger and Magadh Division.


Politics

Bihar was an important part of India's struggle for independence. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Raj kumar Shukla, he was supported by great illumanaries like Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad. After independence also, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to hold elections came from Bihar under the leadership of Jaya Prakash Narayan.

This resulted in two things:

  1. The identity of Bihar (from the word Vihar meaning monasteries) representing a glorious past was lost. Its voice often used to get lost in the din of regional clamor of other states, specially the linguistic states like Uttar pradesh, Madhya pradesh etc.
  2. Bihar gained an anti-establishment image. The establishment oriented press often projected the state as indiscipline and anarchy.

Since the regional identity was slowly getting sidelined , its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Brahmins, Bhumihar Brahmins and Rajputs. After Independence the power was shared by the two great gandhians Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha who later became the first chief minister of Bihar and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha who decidedly was next to him in the cabinet and served as the first deputy chief minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.In late 60's death of late Mr. Lalit Narayan Mishra (who was killed by a hand grenade attack for which central leadership is blamed most of the time) pronounced the end of indigenous work oriented mass leaders. For two decades congress ruled the state with the help of puppet chief ministries hand in glove with the central government (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) ignoring the welfare of the people of the state. It was the time when a prominent leader like Satyendra Narayan Sinha took sides with the Janata Party and deserted congress from where his political roots originated, following the ideological differences with the congress. Idealism did assert itself in the politics from time to time, viz, 1977 when a wave defeated the entrenched Congress Party and then again in 1989 when Janata Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stranglehold of the status quoits under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha and Karpoori Thakur. Unfortunately, this could not flourish, partly due to the impractical idealism of these leaders and partly due to the machinations of the central leaders of the Congress Party who felt threatened by a large politically aware state.

Janata Dal came to power in the state in 1990 on the back of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Lalu Prasad Yadav became Chief Minister after winning the race of legislative party leadership by a slender margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party and close to eminent Janata Party leaders like Chandrashekhar and S N Sinha. Later, Lalu Prasad Yadav gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu Prasad Yadav was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a charismatic leader who had people's support and Bihar had got such a person as the chief minister after a long time. But he couldn't bring the derailed wagon of development of the state on to the track. When corruption charges got serious, he quit the post of CM but anointed his wife as the CM and ruled through proxy. In this period, the administration deteriorated fast.

In 2005, as disaffection reached a crescendo among the masses, middle classes included, the RJD was voted out of power and Lalu Prasad Yadav lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar has regained Bihar's true identity, which is the place from where people who changed the world come like Gautam Buddha or Asoka or the Sikh Gurus. People love him and he is desperate to put Bihar in the mainstream development path. Despite the separation of financially richer Jharkhand, Bihar has actually seen more positive growth in recent years.

Currentlly, there are two main political formations: the NDA which comprises Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led coalition which also has the Indian National Congress. There are myriad other political formations. Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party is a constituent of the UPA at the centre, but does not see eye to eye with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD in Bihar. Bihar People's Party is a small political formation in north Bihar. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, but has got weakened now. CPM and Forward Bloc have minor presence. Ultra left parties like CPML, Party Unity etc have presence in pockets and are at war with the state.

See also Political parties in Bihar

Economy

The economy of Bihar is largely service orientated, but it also has a significant agricultural base. The state also has a small industrial sector. As of today, agriculture accounts for 35%, industry 9% and service 55% of the economy of the state Manufacturing has performed very poorly in the state over the last 5 years, with an average growth rate of 0.38% compared to India's 7.8%.

Bihar has significant levels of production for the products of mango, guava, litchi, pineapple, brinjal, cauliflower, bhindi, and cabbage in India. Despite the states leading role in food production, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been inadequate in the past.

The state has a per capita income of $148 a year against India's average of $997 and 30.6% of the state's population lives below the poverty line against India's average of 22.15%. However, Bihar's GSDP grew by 18% over the period 2006-2007, which was higher then in the past 10 years..

Historically, the sugar and vegetable oil industries were flourishing sectors of Bihar. Until the mid fifties, 25% of India's sugar output was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro - industrial town. There have been attempts to industrialize the state between 1950 and 1980: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, and a power plant at Muzaffarpur. However, these were forced to shut down due to central government policy which neutralized the strategic advantages of Bihar. Hajipur, near Patna, remains a major industrial town in the state, linked to the capital city through the Ganga bridge and good road infrastructure.

The Finance Ministry has given top priority to create investment opportunities for big industrial houses like Reliance. Further developments have taken place in the growth of small industries, improvements in IT infrastructure, the new software park in Patna, and the completion of the expressway from the Purvanchal border through Bihar to Jharkhand. In August 2008, a Patna registered company called the Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) India Limited took over the Australian guard and mobile patrol services business of American conglomerate, United Technologies Corp (UTC). SIS is registered and taxed in Bihar. The capital city, Patna, is one of the better off cities in India when measured by per capita income.

Culture and contemporary life

Festivals

Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and 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 latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and Chhath being an arduous observance requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, 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. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstenance and ritual segregation of the worshiper from the main household for two days. On the eve of Chhath, houses are scrupulously cleaned and so are the surroundings. The ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once on the crack of the dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion is almost a carnival, and besides every worshipper, usually women, who are mostly the main ladies of the household, there are numerous participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshiper. Ritual rendition of regional folk songs, carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, are sung on this occasion for several days on the go. These songs are a great mirror of the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Chhath being celebrated at the crack of the dawn is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience connecting the modern Indian to his ancient cultural roots. Chhath is believed to be started by Karna, the king of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpur region of Bihar).

Among ritual observances, the month long Shravani Mela held along a 108 kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganj and Deoghar (now in Jharkhand state) is of great significance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in the Hindu month of Shravan, that is 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, walking the 108 km stretch barefooted to the town of Deoghar to bathe a sacred Shiva-Linga. The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deoghar from all over India.

Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervor in Bihar. Bihula-Bishari Puja is celebrated in the Anga region of Bihar. The Sonepur cattle fair is a month long event starting approximately half a month after Deepawali and is considered the largest cattle fair in Asia. It is held on the banks of the Son River in the town of Sonepur. The constraints of the changing times and new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have eroded the once-upon-a-time magic of the fair.

Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of India are celebrated in Bihar, such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (often called Eid-ul-Zuha in the Indian Subcontinent), Muharram, Ram Navami, Rath yatra, Rakshabandhan, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Chitragupta Puja, and several other local festivals as well.

Folksongs & music

Apart from a strong contribution to the Indian (Hindustani) classical music (for example, Bihar has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan and dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana)) , Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments, though 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.

During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured labourers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and 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.

Dances of Bihar

Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.

Folk theatre

Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are Bidesia, Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. All of these theatre forms originate in the Anga or Ang area of Bihar.

Cinema

Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There is also a small Maithili and Angika film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo. "Lagi nahin chute ram" was the alltime superhit Bhojpuri film which was released against "Mugle Azam" but was a superhit in all the eastern and northern sector. Nadiya Ke Paar is among the most famous Bhojpuri movies.

Ramayan Tiwari, popularly known as Tiwari, was the first major Bihari film actor. He played the villain and various mythological characters in more than 200 films. He was followed by his son Bhushan Tiwari, also a renowned actor, who played the villain in more than 100 movies.

The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan (released in 1965 & Directed by Phani Majumdar), of which a significant portion was made in the Maithili language. Bhaiyaa a Magadhi film was released in 1961.

Religion

Gautam Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya. Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali.

A typical Bihari household would begin the day with religious devotion. The blowing of a conch shell heralds the dawn of a new day while somewhere in the distance; a Hindu priest intones the ancient incantations. The low-pitched chanting of a Buddhist monk or the tolling of a church bell reminds people to pay their salutations to god.

In Bihar, every aspect of life is suffused with religious significance and its manifestations abound in every corner of the state. While shrines are located everywhere - at the foot of trees, roadsides, etc, religious symbols or images of deities can be found in the most obscure or the most public places. From the dashboard of a dilapidated taxi to the plush office of a top executive, holy symbols or idols have their place.

Hinduism being 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.

On arrival in any part of this state, a tourist finds around him evidence of the extent to which religion enters into the daily life of the people. The calendar is strewn with festivals and fairs of different communities living together. Many of these are officially recognized by the days on which they take place being proclaimed as Government holidays.

The battle cries of the Bihar Regiment, consisting of 17 battalions, are "Jai Bajrang Bali" (Victory to Lord Hanuman).

Dariya Sahib, was a saint (who was born in Shahabad in the 1700s) influenced by Kabirdas and Dharamdas, united the Hindu and Muslim communities. Dariya Sahib, like many other Bhakti saints, is known as Dariyadas. He was listed by Brahm Sankar Misra as one of India's greatest saints. Many of his followers believe that he is the reincarnation of Kabir.

Language & literature

Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages - Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili or Angika. Bihari languages were once mistakenly thought to be dialects of Hindi, but they has been more recently shown to be descendant of the language of the erstwhile Magadha kingdom - Magadhi Prakrit, along with Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya.

The number of speakers of Bihari languages are difficult to indicate 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 return Hindi as the generic name for their language.

Despite of the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, they have not been constitutionally recognized in India. Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar. 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 endangerments.

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 - Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950. Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar on 16 August 1989.

The relationship of Maithili community with Bhojpuri and Magahi communities – the immediate neighbors have been neither very pleasant nor very hostile. Maithili has been the only one among them which has been trying to constantly deny superimposition of Hindi over her identity. The other two have given up their claims and have resigned to accept the status of dialects of Hindi.

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 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. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors. 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 (c. 14-15th century).

Media

DD Bihar and ETV Bihar-Jharkhand are the television channels dedicated to Bihar. Recently a dedicated Bhojpuri channel, Mahuaa TV has been launched.

Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Navbharat Times, Aaj and Prabhat Khabar are some of the popular Hindi news papers of Bihar. E-papers, Bihar Times and Patna Daily have become very popular among the educated Biharis, specially the non-resident Biharis. Jaibihar is a similar e-paper, which has been recently started. National English dailies like The Times of India and The Economic Times have reads in the urban regions.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Bihar for the Hindu upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, although some of the Hindu classes do eat meat. The Muslims in Bihar however do generally eat meat as well as vegetables. The staple food is bhat (boiled rice), dal, roti, tarkari and achar. It is prepared from rice, lentils, wheat flour, vegetables, and pickle. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes lthe mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays. The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of sattu and chokha is made of smashed potatoes, tomatoes, and brinjals.

Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice are also special preparations of Anga. Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yoghurt and besan. This dish goes very well with plain rice.

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. 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.

There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cuisine as well, although some of the names of the dishes may be the same as those found in other parts of North India. Roll is a typical Bihari non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.

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.

Arts and crafts

Manjusha Kala or Angika Art is an art form of Anga Region of Bihar.

Madhubani paintings of Mithila Region is a style of Indian painting, practiced 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 of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas. 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. Generally no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs. objects depicted in the walls of kohabar ghar (where newly wed couple see each other in the first night) are symbols of sexual pleasure and procreation. 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. The painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and other milestones of the life-cycle such as birth, Upanayanam (Sacred thread ceremony), and marriage.

Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company painting, sadly does not exist any more. This offshoot of the well-know Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during late 18th century. They shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, but unlike them (whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes), the Patna painters also started painting bazaar scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica. Favourite subjects were scenes of Indian daily life, local rulers, and sets of festivals and ceremonies. Most successful were the studies of natural life, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that formed the nucleus for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. College of arts and crafts Patna is an important center of Fine Arts in Bihar.

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. The weavers of Bihar have been practicing their trade for centuries. Among their products in common use are the cotton dhurries and curtains. They are produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Biharsharif areas. These colourful sheets, with motifs of Buddhist artifacts, pictures of birds, animals, and/or flowers, gently wafting in the air through doors and windows, blown by a cool summer breeze, used to be one of the most soothing sights as one approached a home or an office.

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.

Education

Literacy Rate from 1951~2001
Year Total Males Females
1951 13.49 22.68 4.22
1961 21.95 35.85 8.11
1971 23.17 35.86 9.86
1981 32.32 47.11 16.61
1991 37.49 51.37 21.99
2001 47.53 60.32 33.57

Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the ancient universities of Nalanda University (Estd. 450 CE) and Vikramshila University (Estd. 783 AD) . Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when it is believed that marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these centers of learning.

Bihar saw a revival of its education system during the later part of the British rule when they established Patna University(Estd. 1917) which is 7th oldest University of the Indian subcontinent. Some other centers of high learning established by British rule are Patna College(Estd. 1839), Bihar School of Engineering (Estd. 1900,now (National Institute of Technology, Patna), Prince of Wales Medical College (Estd. 1925, now Patna Medical College and Hospital), Science College, Patna (Estd. 1928) and many more.

After independence Bihar lost the pace in term of establishing center of education. Modern Bihar has a grossly inadequate educational infrastructure creating a huge mismatch between demand and supply. This problem further gets compounded by the growing aspirations of the people and an increase in population. The craving for higher education among the general population of Bihar has led to a massive migration of the student community from the state. This has prompted many students to seek educational opportunities in other states, such as New Delhi and Karnataka, even for graduation level college education.

Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in India, with women's literacy being only 33.57%. At the time of independence women's literacy in Bihar was 4.22%. It is a pleasant surprise to find that in spite of the meagre investment on education in Bihar, specially compared to other Indian states, the students have done very well. Famed national institutes of learning such as IITs, IIMs, NITs and AIIMS have always have had a good representation from Bihar which is usually higher than their proportion of the population, though none of these institutions are physically located in Bihar. Other institutions of higher learning, and coveted positions in the government also show a greater share than the percentage of their population. A recent survey by Pratham rated the absorption of their teaching by the Bihar children better than those in other states.

Bihar established several new education institutes between 2006-2008. On 8 August, 2008 IIT of India was inaugurated in Patna with 109 students from all our India.. On 4 August, 2008, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Patna (NIFTP) was established as 9th NIFT of India. Chanakya National Law University a law university and Chandragupt Institute of Management a management institute was established in later half of 2008.

Transportation

Bihar has three airports: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna, Gaya Airport, Gaya and Bhagalpur Airport . Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. It is categorized as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya Airport, airport is a small international airport connected to Colombo, Singapore, Bangkok and more.

Bihar is well-connected by railway lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected among themselves, and they also are directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Katihar, Barauni, Chhapra, Bhagalpur and Gaya are Bihar's best-connected railway stations.

The state has a vast network of National and State highways. For Buddhist pilgrims, the best option for travel to Bihar is to reach Patna or Gaya, either by air or train, and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali. Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh also is not very far.

Fauna and Flora

The Ganges River dolphin, or “susu” occur in the Ganga and Brahmaputra, south Asia’s largest river systems. It can now be considered amongst the most endangered mammals of the region.

The Ganges river dolphin ranges from 2.3 to 2.6 meters in length. The tail fluke is on average 46cm in width. Females are larger than males. The color of this dolphin varies from lead-colored to black. The undersides are lighter in color. The rostrum is 18 to 21cm in length and the forehead is steep and rises abruptly from the base of the snout. The dorsal fin is rudimentary and ridge-like, and the ends of the pectoral fins are squared instead of tapered. The neck is visibly constricted and the blowhole is a longitudinal slit. There are 28 to 29 teeth on either side of the jaw. The eye and optic nerve of the Ganges river dolphin are degenerate. The eye lacks a lens and is therefore incapable of forming images on the retina. However, it functions in light-detection. It is believed that the lack of a true visual apparatus in the river dolphin is related to its habitat; the water in which it lives is so muddied that vision in essentially useless.

Place of Interest

Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world with history of 3000 years. The rich culture and heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments that are dotted all over the state in eastern India. Bihar is home of many tourist attractions. Bihar is visited by scores of tourists from all over the World all the year round. .Around total 6,000,000 (6 million) tourist visits Bihar every year.

In the earliest day, tourism in region was purely based Educational tourism as Bihar was home of some prominent ancient universities like Nalanda University & Vikramaśīla University.

Bihar one of the most sacred place of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism & Islam, Many tourist travel to Bihar to visit their pilgrimage.

Mahabodhi Temple, a Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also situated in Bihar.Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Patna, is one of the longest bridge in the world.

Archaeological sites and Monuments in Bihar
Excavation
Kumhrar·Agam Kuan·Barabar Caves·Nalanda·Vikramsila
Ancient
Vishnupada Temple · Mahabodhi Temple · Sasaram · Maner Sharif · Patliputra · Brahmayoni Hill · Pretshila Hill · Ramshila Hill
Forts
Rohtasgarh Fort · Rohtasgarh Fort · Sasaram Fort · Palamu Fort · Maner Fort · Jalalgarh Fort · RajMahal
Monuments
Golghar · Patna Museum · Kargil Chowk · Mahatma Gandhi Setu
Pilgrimage sites in Bihar
Hindu Pilgrimage
Mahavir Mandir · Sitamarhi · Madhubani · Punausa · Buxur · West Champaran · Munger · Jamui · Darbhanga · Anga
Jain Pilgrimage
Rajgir · Pawapuri · Patliputra · Arrah · Vikramasila
Buddhist Pilgrimages
Mahabodhi Temple · Bodhi Tree ·Bodh Gaya · Gaya · Vaishali · Pawapuri· Nalanda · Rajgir · Kesariya · Vikramshila · Areraj · Patliputra
Sikh Pilgrimage
Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb · Guru ka Bagh · Ghai Ghat · Handi Sahib · Gobind Ghat · Bal Lila Maini··Taksali Sangat · Guru Bagh · Chacha Phaggu Mal · Pakki Sangat · Bari Sangat
Islamic Pilgrimages
Sasaram · Maner Sharif · Bihar Sharif · Phulwari Sharif · Patna
Christian Pilgrimages
Padari ki haveli

Gallery

Photo Gallery

References and footnotes

External links

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