Dance and Music
The simple tribal people of Bihar express their creative joy through the Chhau dance, which was originally a war dance, preformed in order to perfect fighting techniques. It has, over the years, evolved into a narrative ballet.
Jat-Jatin Dance of the Mithila region is performed where one person performs the role of Jat (the husband) and Jatin (the wife) wearing masks and goes through the story of their life.
Bidesia is another form of dance drama that is extremely popular in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar.
When there is a total drought and there is not even a single drop of water anywhere; the lands are cracked and parched, the sky is lifeless without clouds and the people are awaiting rains - this is the time when the village women pray to Lord Indra for rain. They sing and dance to please the Lord of Rain with their deep devotion. Finally Lord Indra responds their worship and takes pain to pour heavy rainfalls. This is the message of the most eminent folk dance of Bihar.
Kajari is a song of rainy season. The popular melodious tune of Kajari songs produce a sweet sensation in body and it is heard from the very beginning of the Shravan month with the rhythmatic note of rain.
The foremost event in one’s life is his birth. The birth of a child is celebrated all over the country with different traditional rituals. In Bihar, ladies always sings Sohar on the occasion of birth ceremony of a child. They sometimes compare the child with Lord Rama, sometimes with Lord Krishana and so on. Sohar has its own distinctive dictions.
Holi is a well known festival to the whole nation. We all know that the first day of the Hindu Calendar, that is, “Pratham Chairtra Mass” is the day of “Holi”. A colourful festival which conveys the massage for religious integration apart from any sort of bigotism. There is a typical style “Dhamar” of holi singing in our villages in which the villagers celebrate it in a form of group with full joy and dances with musical instruments like dholak, jhal-manjeera, etc.
Specialized to the married women, it is a folk dance of Mithilanchal of Bihar.
Bihar is an agriculture based State. In the harvesting season, male and female villagers do their work with dance and song in the field. Their happiness and joy is the symbol of good crop.
The region of Mithilanchal is famous for the songs of Vidyapati those can be heard even now in the evenings from several homes in the region. Bhojpuri folksongs are popular in Bihar and second to none when it comes to beats and rhythm.
Arts of Bihar
One of the art forms of Bihar, the Madhubani School of Painting, has lately received much attention and poularity. Madhubani, in the heart of the Mithila region, had a rich tradition of wall paintings done by the village women with vegetable dyes. An artist encouraged them to try their wall paintings on paper and since then Mithila paintings gained ground. These line paintings in primary colors normally depict village scenes, human and animal forms, gods and goddesses.
Patna Qalam is a very popular School of Painting of Bihar. This offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. With the decline of the Mughals, the Delhi artists migrated to Murshidabad. Some of them came to Patna and practiced their craft following a style that gradually came to be known as the Patna Qalam. The style is famous for its soft colors and the use of hand made paper or mica sheets. Most of these paintings depict the life of the people of Bihar.
Crafts of Bihar
Sujini and Khatwa Embroidery
The sujini is a traditional quilt made in Bihar. For the inner stuffing old clothes are used and threads drawn from the saree border are used for the embriodery. The embroidery is done in running stitch in a scale pattern and depicts village scenes such as bride in palanquin, peacocks dancing, boy flying kite, etc. Durga is sombre brown, ochre and black is another favourite imagery. The applique work of Bihar is called "Khatwa" and is used to craft decorative tents, canopies, shamianas, etc. The applique designs for tents are Persian type trees, flowers, animals, birds, etc. For canopies the whole design with circular central motif is cut out of a single cloth.
Wood Inlay is one of Bihar's ancient industries. The inlay continues to be done with different materials, metal, ivory and stag-horn. Apart from decorative pieces like wall hangings, table tops, trays, and a number of utility articles are also ornamented with inlay work. Patna also manufactures articles in diaper work utilizing waste pieces of wood. Marvellous pieces of trays, boxes and other articles for household use are produced using this craft. The designs are mostly geometrical but very fine and colourful.
In Bihar lac has been gathered and used for ages. The vermilion container called sindurdan used in marriages in Bihar is made by a whole community called laheris. the boxes are decorated with the prescribed motifs of fish, chakra and peacock which have a moving rythmic quality. One of the oldest items seems to be a round conical box, in which the bride's parents present her with a nose ring at the marriage that has exciting symbols of fertility and longevity engraved on its red body. Other equally colourful and ornamental articles are chapati boxes and dry fruit containers.
Bihar's rich heritage of stonecraft is evident from the ancient sculptures of the Mauryan period, prominent amongst which is the famous Asoka pillar at Sarnath. The most noted stoneware centre of Bihar is Patharkatti in Gaya district. this area abounds in the less expensive blue black pot stone from which images and household articles like the pestle, the mortar kharal (medicine grinder) are made. Buddhist icons are a speciality. Chandil and Karaikalla in Singhbum district and Dumka in Santhal parganas work in beautifully grained greenish black soapstone.
Patna has had a fine tradition of glassware, mostly tableware, and this was amongst the popular items exported abroad in large quantities. This craft seemed to have declined with time. However, the state has revived glassware in another form. Glass objects are now decorated in the tikuli technique. Traditional pictures like those made on the walls of the houses, highly deorative and attractive, are made on glass with gold or silver pieces to fill up the entire picture. A number of utility articles are made in this style such as wall decorations, boxes, trays, table tops, mats, etc.
The chou dance of Seraikala in Bihar is highly sophisticated and uses masks. Though the dance originated in the middle ages, the masks seem to have gained a sophisticated look over the years. Today the are not only very stylish but also equally dainty.
The papier-mâché masks of Bihar are impregnated with inarticulated meaning. Traditionally only those people who were dancers were permitted to make the masks. Originally they were made of wood, later of bamboo, then pumpkin shells and now papier-mâché.
In Bihar, printing is done on cotton, wool and silk. Places like Bhagalpur, Bihar Sharif, Darbhanga, saran and Patna are well known for this craft. Gaya, being a famous place of pilgrimage has the religious textiles with the names or footprints of deities printed all over in ochre or red. The chunris of Bihar deserve special mention. One sees a whole panorama of designs in these chunris ranging from traditional to floral and animal forms. There is a small printing sector in North Bihar at Sursand where only mica (khari) printing is done. Bright colours are used and largely dots and stars strewn all over form the designs.
Obra in Bihar has a hoary tradition in carpet weaving dating back to the Buddhist and Mauryan era when high class floor coverings used to be woven here. But the pile carpet as we know it took birth only about 300 years ago and flourished because of royal patronage offered to carpet weaving. Though it still continues to produce the old designs based on the Indo-Persian style, it is on the decline, and having got isolated from Gaya-Sasram it produces a rougher variety in the usual floral and geometrical patterns.
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