Discover Bihar Culture

Bihar, a state in eastern India, is known for its rich Bihar Culture heritage that dates back to ancient times. Its historical significance as the center of some of the world’s most renowned empires and kingdoms has given it a unique identity. The culture of Bihar is an amalgamation of various religions and traditions that have evolved over time.

The state boasts a diverse range of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, reflecting its vibrant cultural fabric. From Chhath Puja to Sonepur Mela, each festival has its own distinct rituals and customs that are deeply rooted in tradition. The traditional cuisine of Bihar is equally diverse, with delicacies like litti-chokha, sattu-paratha, and kadhi-bari being popular among locals and tourists alike. Furthermore, folk art forms like Madhubani paintings and music genres such as Bhojpuri continue to thrive in Bihar’s cultural landscape today. This article aims to delve into the many facets of Bihar’s culture while exploring its historical relevance and contemporary significance.

Key Takeaways

  • Bihar has a rich historical significance with various empires and dynasties contributing to its development in art, architecture, literature, and philosophy.
  • The culture of Bihar is an amalgamation of various religions and traditions, with a diverse range of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, such as Chhath Puja, Holi, and Diwali.
  • Folk art forms like Madhubani paintings and Sujni embroidery, as well as folk music genres like Bidesia, Chaita, and Holi Geet, are an important aspect of Bihar’s culture.
  • Popular tourist destinations in Bihar include Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, and Rajgir, which have historical and spiritual significance.

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Historical Significance of Bihar

The historical significance of Bihar lies in its rich cultural heritage, as it has been the center of various empires and dynasties that have contributed to the development of art, architecture, literature, and philosophy. The Mauryan Empire (321-185 BCE), which had its capital at Pataliputra (modern-day Patna), was one of the most powerful empires in ancient India. Emperor Ashoka, who converted to Buddhism after the Battle of Kalinga, played a crucial role in spreading Buddhism not only in India but also beyond its borders.

Bihar’s influence on neighboring states is evident from the fact that several kingdoms emerged from here that ruled over vast territories. The Gupta Empire (320-550 CE) is known for its contributions to Indian art and literature. The Nalanda University, established during this period, was one of the oldest universities in the world and attracted scholars from different parts of Asia. Many Buddhist monasteries were also built during this time.

Bihar’s impact on Indian history cannot be underestimated as it has played a vital role in shaping Indian culture and traditions. Bihar is home to many festivals like Chhath Puja, which is celebrated with great fervor and devotion across northern India. These festivals are an integral part of Bihar’s cultural legacy and reflect its deep-rooted traditions.

Festivals and Celebrations

The state of Bihar is home to a diverse range of festivals and celebrations, each with its own unique significance. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is celebrated with great fervor in Bihar as it marks the arrival of spring. Chhath, the Festival of Sun God, is an important festival for Biharis where they offer prayers to the sun god and seek his blessings. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is another significant festival that symbolizes victory over darkness and evil. These festivals are not only religious but also cultural events that bring people together in celebration.

Holi – Festival of Colors

Celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm in Bihar, Holi is a vibrant festival of colors that marks the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Phalguna (February/March). Holi traditions vary from region to region, but there are some common practices that are followed across Bihar.

  1. Holika Dahan: A bonfire is lit on the night before Holi to symbolize the victory of good over evil.
  2. Playing with colors: On the day of Holi, people smear each other’s faces with colored powder and water.
  3. Sweets and savories: Special sweets like gujiya and mathri along with savory snacks are prepared for Holi.
  4. Thandai: A special drink made from milk, almonds, saffron, and other spices is served during Holi.

Overall, Holi is a time for joyous celebration and coming together as a community. It’s a chance to forget past grievances and start anew with loved ones.

The next major festival after Holi in Bihar is Chhath – Festival of Sun God. This ancient festival is dedicated to worshipping the sun god and takes place six days after Diwali in October/November each year.

Chhath – Festival of Sun God

An ancient festival dedicated to worshipping the sun god, Chhath takes place six days after Diwali in October/November each year and is an important event in the cultural calendar of many communities. Celebrations for this four-day long festival involve various rituals that are performed by devotees, who fast and abstain from drinking water during this period. The festival is observed primarily by people living in Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Nepal.

On the first day of Chhath, devotees take a dip in a holy river or pond before preparing traditional food offerings known as ‘prasad’. A special canopy made out of bamboo sticks called ‘khatiya’ is erected near a water body where the ritual takes place. On the second day, prayers are offered to the setting sun while on the third day prayers are offered to both rising and setting suns. Finally, on the fourth day of Chhath Puja, devotees break their fast by offering prasad to family members and distributing it among neighbors and friends. With its unique rituals and traditions that have been passed down through generations, Chhath remains an integral part of Bihar’s rich cultural heritage.

The next major festival celebrated after Chhath is Diwali – Festival of Lights which marks the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

Diwali – Festival of Lights

Observed by millions of Hindus all over the world, Diwali is a festival that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Also known as the “festival of lights,”Diwali is celebrated in late October or early November and lasts for five days. The traditions and rituals associated with Diwali vary among different regions in India, but there are common elements that are present in all celebrations.

One of these common elements is the lighting of diyas, small oil lamps made from clay or brass, which are placed around homes and streets to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. Another significant aspect of Diwali is the exchange of gifts and sweets between family members, friends, and neighbors. Fireworks displays are also an integral part of this festival, adding to its festive atmosphere. In modern times, Diwali has become a global celebration that transcends religious boundaries and promotes unity through its message of hope and positivity.

As we delve deeper into Bihar’s cultural heritage, it is impossible not to mention traditional cuisine.

Traditional Cuisine

Traditional cuisine is an essential aspect of Bihar’s culture, and it reflects the state’s rich history and diverse influences. Three popular dishes that are a must-try when in Bihar are Litti Chokha, Sattu Paratha, and Khaja. Litti Chokha is a savory dish made by stuffing roasted gram flour balls with spices and serving them with mashed potatoes and brinjal chutney, while Sattu Paratha is a wheat-flour flatbread stuffed with roasted gram flour filling. Finally, Khaja is a sweet flaky pastry made from layered dough that has been deep-fried and soaked in syrup.

Litti Chokha

Popular in the state of Bihar, Litti Chokha is a staple food that consists of roasted wheat balls stuffed with sattu and served with mashed potatoes, brinjal, and tomato chutney. Sattu is a flour made from roasted chickpeas or grams which is mixed with spices such as ajwain, amchur, and salt to form a filling for the litti. The wheat ball is then roasted over an open flame until it turns golden brown.

Litti Chokha has many variations depending on the region in Bihar where it originates from. In some regions, the stuffing may include onions or garlic while in others it may consist of green chillies or coriander leaves. The ingredients for the chokha also vary based on availability and preference; some people add mustard oil or lemon juice to enhance its flavor. Overall, Litti Chokha serves as an affordable and flavorful meal that can be eaten at any time of day.

Moving onto the next subtopic about sattu paratha…

Sattu Paratha

Sattu Paratha is a popular and traditional dish from Bihar’s cuisine that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The paratha is made with wheat flour dough, which is stuffed with sattu filling – a mixture of roasted gram flour, herbs, and spices. Sattu, the key ingredient in this dish, is a nutritious flour made from roasted Bengal gram or chana dal that has high protein content.

The sattu paratha can be eaten on its own or served with curd, pickle, and onion rings. It makes for a satisfying meal due to its high nutritional value – it is rich in fiber and protein while being low in calories. While the preparation method varies slightly across households, the essence of the dish remains consistent throughout Bihar. Compared to Litti Chokha – another staple dish from Bihar – sattu paratha offers a different texture and flavor profile but still retains the distinct taste of Bihari cuisine.

Moving onto the next delicacy from Bihar’s food culture- Khaja- an authentic sweet treat that has been enjoyed since ancient times in various parts of India.


Khaja is a crispy sweet delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries in various parts of India, including Bihar. This traditional preparation is made by deep-frying layers of dough after coating them with sugar syrup. The result is a crunchy, flaky texture that melts in the mouth and leaves one craving for more.

In Bihar, khaja holds special significance during festivals like Diwali and Chhath Puja. It is also a popular gift item during weddings and other auspicious occasions. Its popularity can be attributed to its unique taste and texture which makes it stand out from other sweets. Moreover, the process of making khaja requires skillful hands and attention to detail which further adds to its charm. As such, it continues to hold an important place in the culinary traditions of Bihar even today.

The folk art and music scene in Bihar are as rich as its cuisine culture.

Folk Art and Music

Folk art and music in Bihar have a rich history that reflects the cultural diversity and traditions of the state. The folk dance forms of Bihar are an important aspect of its culture, with each region having its unique style. Some popular dance forms include Jat-Jatin, Jhumari, Bidesia, and Sohar-Khauvaiya. These dances are accompanied by traditional musical instruments such as dholak, mridangam, shehnai, harmonium, and bansuri.

Bihar is also known for its vibrant folk music scene that celebrates everything from weddings to harvests. The songs are often sung in regional dialects like Magahi or Bhojpuri. Some popular genres include Nirgun Bhajan (devotional songs), Dohas (couplets), Chaita (songs sung during the spring festival) and Holi Geet (songs associated with the Hindu festival of colors). The lyrics often depict social issues such as casteism or poverty but also celebrate love and life.

Overall, Bihar’s folk art and music play a vital role in preserving the state’s cultural heritage. They serve not only as a form of entertainment but also function as a medium to pass on traditions from one generation to another. In the subsequent section about ‘literature and poetry,’ we will explore how these art forms have influenced Bihar’s literary landscape over time.

Literature and Poetry

The literary and poetic traditions of Bihar have a rich history that reflects the diverse linguistic and cultural influences of the region. The state has been home to several renowned poets, writers, and scholars whose works have made significant contributions to Indian literature. One such prominent figure is Vidyapati, who was a prolific writer during the medieval period and known for his romantic poetry in Maithili language. The Bhakti movement also had a profound impact on Bihar’s literary tradition with saints like Kabir and Guru Nanak contributing to it.

In recent times, Bihar’s literary scene has seen an emergence of feminist perspectives in literature and poetry. Women writers from the state are highlighting issues related to gender inequality and social injustice through their writings. In 2018, two women writers from Bihar – Kiran Nagarkar and Urmila Pawar – were awarded the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for their contributions to Indian literature. This recognition has brought attention to the contemporary trends in Bihar’s literary landscape.

Handicrafts and textiles have always been an integral part of Bihar’s culture. From Madhubani paintings to silk weaving, these crafts are deeply rooted in its history and continue to thrive today.

Handicrafts and Textiles

Handicrafts and textiles play a significant role in the culture of Bihar, India. Bhagalpuri Silk, also known as Tussar silk, is a popular textile produced in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar. Sujni embroidery and Tikuli art are also well-known handicrafts that have been practiced for generations in Bihar. These intricate crafts embody the rich cultural heritage of the region and offer insights into the artistic skills of its people.

Bhagalpuri Silk

Bhagalpuri Silk, a luxurious fabric known for its exquisite texture and intricate designs, has been an integral part of Bihar’s cultural heritage for centuries. The silk production in Bhagalpur dates back to the 12th century when the region was under the rule of the Pala dynasty. Known for its natural sheen and softness, Bhagalpuri Silk is made from high-quality mulberry silk that is produced locally. The weaving techniques used by skilled artisans are unique and require extensive training.

To create this beautiful fabric, Bhagalpuri Silk undergoes a process of degumming, dyeing, and reeling before it is woven into intricate patterns. The dyes used in the process are traditional and organic, sourced from local plants like madder root, turmeric, and lac. The unique features of Bhagalpuri Silk have made it popular not just in India but globally as well.

Moving on from Bhagalpuri Silk to another significant aspect of Bihar’s culture – Sujni Embroidery – this craft form has been passed down through generations of women who have created stunning pieces using simple stitches but with great precision.

Sujni Embroidery

Sujni Embroidery is a traditional form of needlework that has been passed down from generation to generation in Bihar. This embroidery style involves using simple stitches, such as the running stitch and chain stitch, to create intricate and beautiful designs on fabric.

The embroidery techniques used in Sujni Embroidery are similar to those used in other Indian embroidery styles, but with unique variations that reflect the cultural symbolism of Bihar. The motifs created through Sujni Embroidery often depict local flora and fauna, as well as geometric patterns inspired by traditional architecture. Through this art form, women in Bihar have been able to express their creativity while preserving their cultural heritage. Moving on to the next subtopic, Tikuli Art is another popular form of traditional art that originated in Bihar.

Tikuli Art

Originating in the Mithila region of India, Tikuli Art is a form of decorative painting that has evolved over time to become one of Bihar’s most treasured art forms. The art form derives its name from ‘tikli’, which means ‘bindi’ or ‘dot’. Tikuli Art uses bright colors and intricate designs to create stunning pieces that are often used as wall hangings or for decorating household items.

Tikuli Art involves multiple stages beginning with the preparation of a specific type of paper known as Sipahi. This paper is then coated with a layer of white paint and left to dry before being painted with bright colors using brushes made from squirrel hair. Modern-day artists have experimented with new techniques and styles, such as incorporating gold leaf and using a variety of different surfaces like glass, ceramics, and metal. Today, Tikuli Art has gained global recognition for its unique style and beauty.

Moving on to famous tourist destinations in Bihar…

Famous Tourist Destinations

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Bihar is Bodh Gaya, a city that attracts visitors from all over the world due to its historical and spiritual significance. The city is known for being the place where Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. Visitors can explore various temples and monasteries, including the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, there are top rated accommodations available in Bodh Gaya along with famous local markets offering traditional handicrafts.

Another famous tourist destination in Bihar is Nalanda, an ancient university town that was once a pioneering center of learning during the Gupta Empire. It was home to one of the oldest universities in the world, attracting scholars and students from across Asia. Today, visitors can explore archaeological ruins and see exhibits showcasing ancient manuscripts at the Nalanda Museum.

The third popular tourist destination in Bihar is Rajgir, an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Jains alike. The town has significant religious importance as it was visited by Lord Buddha many times during his life. Visitors can enjoy scenic views while taking a cable car ride up to Vishwa Shanti Stupa or visit hot springs believed to have medicinal properties. Furthermore, they can also witness rock-cut caves dating back to 3rd century BC at Venuvana Vihara Monastery before moving on to learn about traditional attire prevalent in Bihar’s culture.

Traditional Attire

Moving on from the famous tourist destinations of Bihar, let us now delve into the traditional attire worn by its people. The clothing worn by people in Bihar has a rich history and evolution that dates back to ancient times. The traditional attire of Bihar is influenced by various regional variations and cultural influences which have molded it into a unique form.

The history and evolution of traditional attire in Bihar can be traced back to its roots in rural areas where people wore simple garments made from cotton and silk fabrics. However, with time, these garments evolved to include intricate designs, embroidery work, and embellishments. Women in rural areas continue to wear sarees while men wear dhoti-kurta or sherwani for special occasions.

Regional variations play an important role in shaping traditional attire in Bihar. In northern parts of Bihar, women often wear salwar kameez or churidar kurta with a dupatta while men wear lungi with kurta or shirt. In southern parts of the state, women prefer wearing sarees with bright colors and prints while men generally opt for dhoti-kurta or lungi-kurta.

Influences from neighboring states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal have also left their mark on the traditional attire of Bihar over time. For instance, Bihari brides often adorn themselves with Bengali-style jewelry during their wedding day celebrations.

Traditional attire is just one aspect that highlights the vibrant culture of Bihar. Moving forward, we will explore another integral part of this culture – language and dialects.

Language and Dialects

The linguistic diversity in the state of Bihar is reflective of its long and complex history, with various languages and dialects being spoken by different communities across the region. Hindi is the official language of the state, but it is not the only language that is used. Other languages like Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili, and Urdu are also spoken by significant populations within Bihar.

Regional dialects and variations are prevalent in Bihar as well. For instance, Bhojpuri has several distinct dialects such as Bagheli, Sarawaria, Purbiya and Kharwari. Similarly, Magahi has dialects like Angika and Vajjika which differ from each other based on location and cultural influences.

It is interesting to note that culture has a strong influence on language in Bihar. The languages have evolved over time due to cultural interactions with neighboring regions. For example, Bhojpuri has been influenced heavily by Awadhi (spoken in Uttar Pradesh), while Maithili shares similarities with Bengali (spoken in West Bengal). Such cultural influence has led to a unique linguistic landscape in Bihar that reflects its diverse history and heritage.

This linguistic diversity demonstrates how culture can shape language throughout history. In modern times, this richness continues to play an essential role in shaping the identity of Biharis both within India and abroad.

Cultural Significance in Modern Times

Cultural diversity in contemporary times continues to shape the social fabric of communities across Bihar. The impact of globalization has led to a mix of modern and traditional practices, creating a unique blend that characterizes Bihar’s culture today. Despite this fusion, the preservation of cultural heritage remains vital in maintaining the state’s distinct identity.

The significance of cultural preservation is evident in various aspects of Bihar’s society. Firstly, traditional folk art forms such as Madhubani paintings and Sujni embroidery are still widely practiced and celebrated, serving as an expression of local identity. Secondly, festivals like Chhath Puja continue to be observed with great enthusiasm and devotion, honoring ancient rituals passed down through generations. Thirdly, the use of indigenous languages like Bhojpuri and Magahi in literature and music reflects a commitment to preserving linguistic diversity.

Despite these efforts towards cultural preservation, challenges remain regarding its sustainability in modern times. Rapid urbanization and migration have led to a shift away from traditional occupations such as farming and artisanal crafts. Furthermore, Western influences have resulted in changing values among younger generations who may not place as much importance on preserving their cultural heritage. It is thus crucial for policy makers and civil society organizations to work towards finding innovative ways to incorporate traditional practices into contemporary lifestyles without diluting their essence.

  • A vibrant celebration of culture can foster a sense of belonging among individuals.
  • Cultural preservation allows for intergenerational transmission of knowledge.
  • Losing touch with one’s heritage can lead to feelings of disconnection or loss.
  • Traditional practices often hold valuable insights into sustainable living.
  • Preservation efforts help safeguard against homogenization brought about by globalization.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the population of Bihar?

Bihar has a population of approximately 121 million, with a growth rate of 2.11%. Migration patterns have played a significant role in shaping the state’s demographics, particularly in urban areas where people from neighboring states flock for work opportunities.

2. What is the average income of people in Bihar?

The average earnings in Bihar are relatively low compared to other Indian states, with the majority of the population working in agriculture. However, there is increasing occupation diversity as more people move towards service and manufacturing industries.

3. What is the literacy rate in Bihar?

The literacy rate in Bihar presents both challenges and solutions for the state’s development. Education is crucial for addressing poverty, social inequality, and unemployment. Comparative analysis shows Bihar lags behind other states in education indicators.

4. What is the political situation in Bihar?

The political situation in Bihar was marked by the recently concluded election results, which saw a tight contest between major political parties. The outcome reflects the voters’ changing priorities and preferences, indicating a shift in the state’s political landscape.

5. What is the current state of infrastructure in Bihar?

Bihar’s infrastructure has been improving with measures such as the construction of new roads, bridges and railway lines. This has had a positive impact on tourism, making travel easier and more accessible to visitors.


Bihar has a rich cultural heritage with a history dating back to ancient times. The state is home to several significant historical and religious sites such as the Mahabodhi Temple, Nalanda University, and Bodh Gaya. The festivals celebrated in Bihar reflect the diversity of its people, such as Chhath Puja, Makar Sankranti, Holi, and Diwali.

The traditional cuisine of Bihar includes dishes like Litti Chokha, Dal Pitha, Khaja, and Sattu Paratha. Folk art forms like Madhubani paintings and Gond Art are unique to Bihar. Bhojpuri music is another popular form of folk music that originated in Bihar. Famous tourist destinations include Rajgir Hot Springs, Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, and Valmiki National Park.

In modern times, the cultural significance of Bihar continues to thrive through various mediums such as literature and poetry. Hindi is the official language of Bihar while Maithili, Magahi, Bhojpuri are some of the dialects spoken by the people. Traditional attire includes sarees for women and dhoti-kurta for men.

Overall, Bihar’s culture reflects its rich history and diverse population with unique traditions that have been passed down through generations. Its cultural significance remains strong in modern times through various forms of media and practices that continue to be celebrated today.

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