Religions And Festivals
Commerce & Industry
Profile of Bihar
Industries, Crops & Minerals
The topography of Bihar can be easily described as a
fertile alluvial plain occupying the north, the Gangetic Valley;
The northern plain extends from the foothills of the Himalayas in the
north to a few miles south of the river Ganges as it flows through the
State from the west to the east.
Rich farmland and lush orchards extend throughout the north. Following
are the major crops: paddy, wheat, lentils, sugarcane, jute (hemp,
related to the marijuana plant, but a source of tough fibers and "gunny
bags".) Also, cane grows wild in the marshes of West Champaran. The
principal fruits are: mangoes, banana, jack fruit and litchis. This is
one the very few areas outside China which produces litchi. There is
very little industry in the plain region except for the sugar factories
that are scattered all over the northern plains, particularly in the
western region. Jute is transported to the jute factories located mostly
Among the wildlife, notable are: deer, bears, numerous species of birds,
including the peacock, pheasant, and wild fowl, and most notably, the
tiger. The forest around Valmiki Nagar, West Champaran is one of the
last remaining refuges of this highly endangered species.
The forests of Bihar yield valuable commercial products besides the
timber. Cane trees are used in the manufacture of an indigenous product
for making furniture. A resinous material secreted by the lac insect is
valuable commercially. It is the source of shellac. Also, bangles made
of lac are very popular among women of Bihar. The silkworm is the source
of magnificent silk - haracteristically, the tusser or tussah silk.
The majestic banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis), and the related pipal (Ficus
religiosa), dot the entire landscape of the State.
The people of Bihar can be generally categorized as
largely non-tribals with some sprinkling of tribal people.
Hindi is by far the most common language of the state,
understood by all. There is a significant number of Bengali speaking
people also. They are descendants of the settlers from the old British
Presidency of Bengal. English is the language of commerce and is spoken
by the educated masses.
In addition people speak many dialects in different regions. The major
dialects are: Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili. Bhojpuri is spoken in the
districts of Champaran (East and West), Saran, and Shahabad. Magahi is
the dialect of Central Bihar, i.e., the districts of Patna, Gaya and
Bihar. Maithili, and its variants, is the dialect of the people in the
north-east, i.e., the districts of Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Darbhanga,
Samastipur, Saharsa, Purnia and Bhagalpur.
Of all the dialects and languages, only Maithili can be classified as a
distinct and uniquely Bihari language. It has a very old literature of
its own. (Hindi, as a distinct literary form, came about only very
recently - towards the turn of this century.) The famous poet, Vidyapati,
of medieval Bihar, was the composer of lyrical poems in Maithili. These
songs are devoted to the worship of Lord Krishna and Shiva. Shrimati
Vindhyabasini Devi is a current exponent of the songs of Vidyapati. The
French music publishers, Ocora, have published a compact disc of her
Vidayapati's songs. (Ocora C580063, "Mithila Chants d'amour de Vidyapati",
with Jawahar Lal Jha and Ganesh Kant Thakur)
| Religions And Festivals
The majority of people are Hindu. So all traditional Hindu festivals
are observed - Holi, Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja or Dusserah, Deepavali,
Bhaiya Dooj etc. But there is one festival that is uniquely associated
with Bihar, and that is the festival of Chhath described below.
Muslims comprise a vast minority. Christians, although proportional to
the whole population a small minority, are very large in absolute
numbers. Many beautiful Catholic and Protestant church buildings dot the
landscape of towns in Bihar. Special mention may be made of the St.
Joseph's Convent, the St. Xavier's School with its chapel,
Padri-Ki-Haveli, and the church at the Holy Family Hospital in Patna.
Surprisingly, Bihari Sikhs, in the land that gave the tenth guru, Guru
Gobind Singh, are very few in number. A large number of Sikhs from the
Punjab migrated to Bihar during the partition of India in 1947. This
uprooted, but highly
enterprising, group of people quickly established itself as very
successful member of the business and industrial community in Bihar.
They are now an integral part of the Bihari population. The Harmandir
Takht, the gurudwara that
commemorates Guru Gobind Singh, is a sacred place of pilgrimage for the
Sikhs. To the Sikhs this holy place is reverentially known as Patna
Festivals of all these religions are, of course, observed in Bihar.
There is one Hindu festival that is uniquely Bihari, and that is the
festival of Chhath. This is observed mostly by the people of North
Bihar. It is devoted to the worship of the Sun God. It is, therefore,
also known as SuryaShashti. The festival begins on the sixth day of the
month of Kartik in the Hindu lunar calendar. This will correspond to
late October to mid November, depending on the year. It is one of the
holiest festivals for biharis and extends to four days. On day 1, the
devotees take a cleansing dip - preferably in the holy river Ganges -
and bring river water to prepare the offerings. On day 2, a fast is
observed for the whole day and in late evening, the devotees, after
performing a worship at home, break their fast. The offerings -
typically a porridge of rice, puris (deep fried puffs of wheat flour)
and bananas - are shared among family and visiting friends and
relatives. Day 3 is spent in the preparation of offerings at home during
In the evening the devotees move to a river bank (or a pond) with the
entire family and friends. There the offerings are made to the setting
sun. At nightfall, the devotees along with the family and friends return
home where another colorful celebration takes place. Under a canopy of
sugar cane sticks, clay elephants containing earthen lamps, and
containers full of the offerings, are placed. There the fire god is
The devotees maintain a strict fast without even water. Then next
morning a similar procession of the devotees, family and friends, moves
again to the river bank. Offerings are made to the rising sun. At the
completion of the offerings, there is great celebration. The devotees
break their fast and the rich offerings are made available to the
family, friends, relatives and the onlookers! The offerings are also
very characteristic. They are: a deep fried and sweet rolls of stone
ground wheat flour, grapefruit, whole coconuts, bananas, and grains of
lentils. These items are contained in small, somewhat semicircular, pans
out of bamboo strips.
KARTIK PURNIMA AND THE SONEPUR FAIR:
The month of Kartik in the Hindu
calendar is especially important. It is in this month that the major
religious festivals occur, namely Dusserah (or Durga Puja), Deepavali,
and Chhath. It is a month, like Lent for Christians, when penance is
observed. The end of the month, Purnima (or full moon), is therefore a
great joyous occasion (not much different
than Mardi Gras!) On this day a ritual bath is taken in the holy river
Ganges, or any other river. Sonepur, a river town and important railroad
junction, situated across the river from Patna at the confluence of the
rivers Gandak and
Ganges, is of special importance. A huge fair is held here at this time
which is the largest fair of its kind in the world, for it is a fair
specially for the trade of animals. Cattle, horses, camels and elephants
can be seen in large numbers. It attracts a huge number of people, not
only from all over Bihar, but also from other parts of India and foreign
countries. The Government of Bihar
puts up special accommodations suited to the needs of foreign visitors.
The principal commercial products of Bihar are:
Crops - rice, wheat, lentils, maize (corn), sugar cane.
Fruits - mangoes, bananas, jack-fruit, and litchis.
Fibers - silk (particularly from the Bhagalpur region in the East,
producers of a distinct quality of silk, namely, tussar or tussah); and
jute, transported to factories located mostly near Calcutta for easy
export of the finished material.
Forest Products - hard wood timber, saal and sakhua from the north; also
cane for weaving, particularly from the swamps in West Champaran
district of North Bihar.
North Bihar, a rich agricultural area, has many industries associated
with agricultural products. There are numerous sugar factories scattered
throughout the area. Many rice and edible oilmills also dot the
landscape. It also has some sundry, but important, manufacturing plants,
for example the Button Factory at Mehsi (East Champaran0, and the old
and renowned rail wagon manufacturing plant, the Arthur Butler & Co, at
Muzaffarpur. Immediately after independence however, a major industrial
complex grew around Barauni. The industrial plants located there are:
the Fertilizer Factory, the Oil (petroleum) Refinery Plant, and the
Thermal Power Station. Recently, a Thermal Power Plant has also begun
operation at Kanti, in the Muzaffarpur district along its border with
Regarding commerce and North Bihar, mention must be made of the gigantic
annual cattle fair at Sonpur in the Saran district, close to the
confluence of the Gandak and Ganges rivers. The fair is held around the
religious festival of Kartik Purnima - full moon in the month of Kartik
in the Hindu lunar calendar (corresponding to some time in Oct-Dec in
the Gregorian calendar), which marks the end of the holy month of Kartik.
Kartik Purnima in 1998 falls on Nov 4. This fair is reputed to be one of
the world's largest such fair, where not just cattle but also exotic
animals and horses and elephants are traded in large number. It attracts
a large number of tourists from many countries. The Government of Bihar,
through their Department of Tourism, provide many amenities for their
boarding and lodging.
24º 20' 10" and 27º3'15" North Latitude
83º 19' 50" and 88º17'40" Eastern Longitude
|Clay Soil, Sandy Soil, Loamy Soil.
|Ganga , Saryu , Gandak ,Bagmati , Koshi , Sone ,Punpun
|173 feet ( 53 meters)
Varies from a maximum of
44ºC in Summer to a minimum of around 5ºC in the Winters
Medium to Heavy :1384.3 mm (average)
|94163.00 Sq.Kms.(2001 Census)
|Bihar is well connected by roads.
NH 30 & 31 connects Varanasi, Lucknow, New Delhi and Kolkata.
National Waterway No. 1 is used for cargo transport between Haldia
(West Bengal) and Patna.
Air services connect Patna with Kolkata, Ranchi, Lucknow,
Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Allahabad and Kathmandu ( Nepal
State is well connected by railway network - with major city
of Kolkata, Delhi, Ranchi, Bombay, Varanasi, Jammu, Guwahati etc.
Length of Roads (1999-2000)
National Highway : 26594.75 Kms
State Highway : 11050.12 Kms
Other P.W.D Road :15385.88 Kms
East: West Bengal
West: Uttar Pradesh
|Length: North to South 345 kms.
Breadth: East to West 483 kms.
|Physiographically the entire state is part of
the Ganga-Plains. The formation of plains have come out with
sediments deposited by the River Ganga, Gandak and Sone. The River
Ganga divides whole Bihar into two physical divisions- the north
Bihar Plain and South Bihar Plain. The river system is the lifeline
of the state.
It was once Capital of the Mighty Magadh Empire.
Patna was known in ancient times as Pataliputra, Pataligrama,
Pushp Pur, Kusumpur and Azimabad etc.
Symbol of the City: Golghar
Important River: The Ganga
Important Bridge: The Mahatma Gandhi Setu
(The Longest River Road Bridge, across the River Ganga which
connects North Bihar (Hazipur) and South Bihar (Patna)
|Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport,
Gaya International Airport, Gaya
|Patna High Court
|Hindi / Urdu
|9 ( PATNA, MAGADH, SARAN, TIRHUT, DARBHANGA, KOSHI, PURNEA, BHAGALPUR, AND MUNGER )
(Arwal, Patna, Nalanda, Rohtas, Bhabhua, Bhojpur, Buxar, Gaya,
Jehanabad, Nawada, Siwan, Gopalganj, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur,
Shivahar, West Champaran, East Champaran, Vaishali, Darbhanga,
Madhubani, Samastipur, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Purnia, Araria,
Kishanganj, Katihar, Banka, Bhagalpur, Munger, Lakhisarai,
Aurangabad, Saran, Shekhpura, Jamui, Khagaria and, Begusarai)
|There are tribal as well as non-tribal people in
the state. They can be better classified as non-tribal of north and
aborigines of the south. The latter are tribal in character. The
non-tribal group belong to various castes, prominent among which are
: Kayastha, Bhumihars, Rajputs, and the so-called backward castes.
The aborigines belong to various tribes.
|880 per sq. Km. (2001 Census)
8,28,78,796 ( Provisional ) (2001 Census)
|23.38 % [1981-91]
28.43 % [1991-2001]
|Patna, East Champaran and Muzaffarpur.
|Rice, Dal, Chapaties, Vegetables, Non-Vegetarian
items ; Items of Gram Flour;
Litti, and Chura-Dahi (Curd) in Mithila .
|Hindi, Urdu & Local Dialects (Bhojpuri,
|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
|Madhubani Paintings, Appliqué work, Bamboo
products, Jute products
|Harihar Kshetra (Sonepur) Cattle Fair is one of
the biggest Cattle fair in Asia. Shrawani Fair of Sultanganj.
Kurta-Dhoti, Kurta-Pajama, Pant-Shirt
Saree , Salwar-Kurta
|Lakhisarai, Gaya, West Champaran and East
| Major Industries/Crops/Minerals
Industries: Sponge Iron,, Oil Refinery, Forging, Fertilisers, Jelly
Filled Commu nication Cables, Watch Factory, Fruit Processing, Bulk
Crops: Paddy, Wheat, Maize, Pulses, Sugarcane, Potatoes, Tobacco,
Oilseeds, Onion, Chilies, Jute, Mesta.