From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|94,164 km² (12th)
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
- Chief Minister
- Legislature (seats)
- R.S. Gavai
- Nitish Kumar
- Bicameral (243 + 96)
|Official language(s)||Hindi, Urdu, Angika, Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili|
|This article contains Indic text.
Without rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes or other symbols instead of Indic characters; or irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts.
To Bihar's north is the Kingdom of Nepal. On its other three sides Bihar is surrounded by the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the west, Jharkhand to the south and West Bengal to the east. Bihar lies in the very fertile Gangetic plains. Culturally, it is a part of the Hindi heartland of India. Bihar is also the birth place of the first president of India , Dr. Rajendra Prasad, and legendary freedom fighters like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Basawon Singh (Sinha), Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha,Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan , Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha and Maulana Mazharul Haque.
 Etymology of the Name
The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit vihāra (Dev. विहार), 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 periods.
Main Article: History of Bihar
Bihar was called Magadha in ancient times. Its capital Patna, then known as Pataliputra, was the center of the Mauryan empire, which dominated the Indian subcontinent from 325 BC to 185 BC. Emperor Ashoka was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities, were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India but were destroyed by islamic invaders in the medieval period.
 Religions Originating in Bihar
Bihar is the birthplace of several religions, including Buddhism and Jainism. Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was born in Vaishali. The tenth guru of Sikh, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna, the capital of Bihar. The word "Bihar" has its origin in the Sanskrit word Vihara meaning Buddhist Monasteries. At one time these "viharas" were strewn all over the landscape of Bihar, around villages and cities. At Lauria NandanGarh stands the ancient brick sepulchral mound thought to be the stupa where the ashes of Lord Buddha were enshrined. There also is a pillar with the edict of Ashoka exquisitely carved.
Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji a pashtun and a General of Muhammad Ghori captured Bihar in 12th century. This started the decline of the intellectual and spiritual legacy of Bihar. Many of the Viharas and the famed university of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed in this period.
Bihar saw a brief period of glory for six years during the rule of another pashtun Sher Shah Suri, who was from Sasaram and built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road, which starts from Sonargaon in Bangladesh and ends at Peshawar in Pakistan.
During 1557-1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire. With the decline of Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence.
After the Battle of Buxar (1765), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer and collect revenue, or tax administration / collection) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point onwards, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa. Again, in 2000, 18 administrative districts of Bihar were separated to form the state of Jharkhand.
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.
Bihar's contribution in the freedom struggle has been immense with outstanding leaders like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati,Bihar BibhutiAnugrah Narayan Sinha , Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan,Satyendra Narayan Sinha(Singh) Basawon Singh (Sinha), Yogendra Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee and many others who worked for India's freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses. Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki were also active in revolutionary movement in Bihar.
Baikuntha Shukla, another great nationalist from Bihar who was hanged for murdering Phanindrananth Ghosh who had become a government approver which led to hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.Phanindra Nath Ghosh hitherto a key member of the Revolutionary Party had treacherously betrayed the cause by turning an approver, giving evidence, which led to the execution. Baikunth was commissioned to plan the execution of Ghosh as an act of ideological vendetta which he carried out successfully on 9 November 1932. He was arrested and tried for the killing. Baikunth was convicted and hanged in Gaya Central Jail on May 14, 1934. He was only 28 years old.
After his return from South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi started the freedom movement in India by his satyagraha in the Champaran District of Bihar at the request of Raj Kumar Shukla-- against the British, who were forcing the local farmers to plant indigo which was very harmful to the local soil.
In India’s struggle for Independence the "Champaran Satyagraha", marks a very important stage. Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi, who had just returned from South Africa, to the plight of the peasants suffering under an oppressive system established by European indigo planters. Besides other excesses they were forced to cultivate indigo on 3/20 part of their holding and sell it to the planters at prices fixed by the planters. This marked Gandhiji’s entry into the India’s Struggle for Freedom. On his arrival at Motihari, the district headquarters, accompanied by Raj Kumar Shukla, Gandhiji was ordered to leave by the next available train which he refused to do and was arrested. He was released and the ban order was withdrawn in the face of a, "Satyagraha" threat. Gandhiji conducted an open enquiry into the peasant’s grievances. The Government had to appoint an enquiry committee with Gandhiji as a member. This led to the abolition of the system.
Raj Kumar Shukla has been described by Gandhiji in his "Atmakatha", as a man whose suffering gave him the strength to rise against the odds. In his letter to Gandhiji he wrote "Respected Mahatma, You hear the stories of others everyday. Today please listen to my story….. I want to draw your attention to the promise made by you in the Lucknow Congress that you would come to Champaran. The time has come for you to fulfil your promise. 19 lakhs suffering people of Champaran are waiting to see you."
Gandhiji reached Patna on 10 April, 1917 and on 16 April he reached Motihari accompanied by Raj Kumar Shukla. Under Gandhiji’s leadership the historic "Champaran Satyagraha" began. The contribution of Raj Kumar Shukla is reflected in the writings of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, first President of India, Acharya Kriplani and of course, Mahatma Gandhi himself. Raj Kumar Shukla maintained a diary in which he has given an account of struggle against the atrocities of the indigo planters, atrocities so movingly depicted by Deen Bandhu Mitra in "Neel Darpan", a play that was translated by Michael Madhusudan Dutt. This movement by Mahatma Gandhi received the spontaneous support of a cross section of people, including Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who ultimately became the first President of India and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha who later became the first finance minister of Bihar.
- 560-480 BCE: Anga, Buddha
- Before 500 BCE: Foundation of world's first republic in Vaishali.
- Before 325 BCE: Anga, Nanda clan in Magadha, Licchavis in Vaishali
- 325-185 BCE: Maurya Dynasty
- 250 BCE: 3rd Buddhist Council
- 185 BCE-80 CE: Sunga Dynasty
- 80 - 240: Regional kings
- 240 - 600: Gupta Dynasty
- 600 - 650: Harsha Vardhana
- 750 - 1200: Pala Dynasty
- 1200: Bakhtiyar Khilji's army, destroys the universities at Nalanda and Vikramshila
- 1200-1250: Decline of Buddhism
- 1250-1526: Ruled by Delhi Sultanate (Muslim Turks - Tughluqs, Sayyids, Lodis)
- 1526-1540: Babur defeats last Delhi sultan, establishes Mughal Empire
- 1540-1555: Suri dynasty captures empire from Mughals (including Shershah Suri who built the Grand Trunk Road)
- 1556-1757: Mughal dynasty resumes
- 1666: Guru Gobind Singh (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ)(Born in Patna, Bihar, India]
- 1757-1857: British East India Company rule
- 1857: Revolt of 1857
- 1857-1947: British Raj rule
- 1912: Province of Bihar & Orissa separated from Bengal
- 1935: Bihar and Orissa become separate provinces
- 1947: Indian Independence; Bihar becomes a state
- 2000: Bihar divided into two states - north part remains "Bihar", southern becomes Jharkhand
 Geography & climate
Geography Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It has several rivers: Ganga, Son, Bagmati, Kosi, Budhi Gandak, and Falgu to name a few. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. The Himalayan mountains are to the north, in Nepal. 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; 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (40 to 45 degrees Celsius; 104 to 114 degrees 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.
Bihar is among the least developed states of India and has a per capita income of $94 a year against India's average of $255. A total of 42.6% live below the poverty line against India's average of 26.1%. The blame for this stems from many factors: grossly discriminatory central government policies, viz. Freight equalisation scheme, lack of vision of the political classes, and inadequate investments in agriculture, infrastructure and education. Some people believe that mis-rule, caste-dominated politics and rampant corruption by politicians & bureaucrats have been the cause of the lack of development of the state. Saibal Gupta of Asian Development Research Institute has blamed the absence of a sub-national identity which has allowed the Central Government to get away with its neglect.  Mohan Guruswamy of Centre of Policy Alternatives has done a detailed study of the continued neglect of Bihar by the central government and how it has resulted in its downslide. 
The economy is mainly based on agricultural and trading activities. The vast swath of extremely fertile land makes it ideal for agriculture. Despite a number of rivers and good fertile soil, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been grossly inadequate. Agriculture is mainly dependent upon the vagaries of the nature.
Previously, there were a few half hearted attempts to industrialize the state: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, and a power plant at Muzaffarpur. However, no sustained effort had been made in this direction, and there was little success in its industrialization. Historically, sugar and vegetable oil were flourishing industries of Bihar. Till the mid fifties, 25% of India's sugar output was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro - industrial town. However, these were forced to shut down due to faulty central policy which neutralized the strategic advantages of Bihar.
Recently the dairy industry has picked up very well in Bihar. Sugar industry is another one which has started to show up with 25 new sugar factories committed in Bihar between 2006 and 2007.
Bihar's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $19 billion in current prices. There was a division of Bihar in 2000, when the industrially advanced and mineral-rich southern-half of the state was carved out to form the separate state of Jharkhand. Since then, the main economic activity of Bihar has been agriculture. The new Bihar state produces about 60% of the output of the old Bihar state.
 Macro-economic trend
This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Bihar at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
|Year||Gross State Domestic Product|
Note 1: includes Jharkhand
Bihar was at the forefront of India's struggle of independence. Right from the 1857 war of independence to the 1942 Quit India movement, the whole country looked to Bihar for providing direction to its freedom struggle. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Rajkumar Shukla. After independence also, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to reinstate democracy came from Bihar under the leadership of Jaya Prakash Narayan.
This has resulted in two things:
1. There is no regional identity for the state. Its voice often gets lost in the din of regional clammer of other states, specially the linguistic states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra etc.
2. Bihar has gained an anti establishment image. The establishment oriented press often projects this as indiscipline and anarchy.
Since the regional identity did not develop, its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Brahmins and Bhumihars. 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 Janta Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stanglehold of the status quoists 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 legialative party leadership by a slender margin against Ramsundar Das, a low caste politician with an enviable record of public service. Later, Lalu gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. 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 Laloo Prasad lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar.
Currentlly, there are two main political formations: the NDA which comprises of Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party and the 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 wtih the state.
 Government and Administration
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 37 districts, for administrative purposes.
- See also
 Transport & Travel
Bihar has three airports - Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna, Bhagalpur Airport and Gaya. Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. It is categorised as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya airport is a small international airport connected to Colombo and Bangkok.
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, 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.
 Places to See
- Buddhist sites - Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Bhagalpur , Vikramshila ,Sultanganj.
- Jain sites - Vaishali and Pawapuri, Bhagalpur.
- Sikh sites - Har Mandir Sahib, Patna City, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh.
- Hindu sites - Sultanganj(Bhagalpur), Vishnupad Temple at Gaya, Konch Shiva Temple, Tara Mandir at Mahisi, Patan Devi at Patna, Sun Temple at Deo, near Aurangabad, Varah Temple at Harihar Kshetra, Shiv Temple at Singhesarsthan(Madhepura),Aranya Devi temple [Ara] and Janki Mandir in Sitamarhi.
- Muslim sites - Bihar-E-Sharif, [Sultanganj], Bhagalpur.
- Historic sites - The landscape is dotted with historic sites. Important ones are Patna, Bhagalpur, Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Pawapuri, Champaran, and Sasaram.
- Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, Patna.
- 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 ardous 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 worshipper 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 worshipper. 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 Uttar Pradesh. Nowadays, modern Chhath songs, largely Bollywood filmy remixes have caught on, but the old tradition still goes strong. Chhath, in absence of proper administrative arrangements, however, leads to some serious problems of traffic congestion, waterbody pollution and vandalism on several Bihari towns. However, Chhath being celebrated at the crack of the dawn on a river bank is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience connecting the modern Indian to his ancient cultural roots.
Chhath is celebrated around a week after the festival of Diwali. However, the two festivals are not connected, mythologically speaking. While Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama after the battle with the demon king Ravana, Chhath is an ancient festival supposedly started by the King of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpur region in Buhar) named Karna. Karna is a powerful character in the epic Mahabharata.
Chhath is also celebrated by a great number of people in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
- 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 Deogarh to bathe a sacred Shiva-linga [sacred rock]. The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deoghar from all over India.
Bihula-Bishari Puja of Anga region also is a great festival 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 Sone 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 pronounced Eid-uz-Zoha in South Asia), Muharram, Ram Navami, Rath yatra, Rakhi, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja, Divali, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, and several other local festivals as well.
 Folksongs & music
Main article: Music of Bihar
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, 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.
 Language & Literature
Hindi in Bihar
Angika is the only one of the languages which can be used in the Google Search Engine; Google-Angika has been available since 2004. The oldest poetry of the Hindi language (e.g., poetries written by Saraha, also known by the name Sarahapa, were written in the Angika language during the 8th century.
Bihar has produced a number of writers of Hindi, including Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksha Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' 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. 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.
Vidyapati Thakur is the most renowned poet of Maithili (c. 14-15th century).
Urdu in Bihar
Urdu is one of the important languages of Bihar. 85.42 lacs people of these states speak Urdu language. Hindi is the first official language of the State. Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar since 16 August 1989 for the following purposes:
1. Acceptance of representations and replies thereto.
2. Acceptance of documents by the Registration Offices.
3. Publication of important rules, regulations, etc.
4. Issue of orders and notifications of public interest.
5. Publication of important Government documents.
6. Publication of district Gazettes, and
7. Display of signboards.
The State Government identified several areas in which there are 15 per cent or more of the local population speaking one of the minority languages of the state. Urdu speakers constitute at least 15 percent of the total population in the largest part in the state:
1.District of Darbhanga (19.36)
3.Sitamarhi (15.28) and Katihar(77.60).
 Folk Theatre
Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are 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.
Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There is also a small Maithili film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo. Nadiya Ke Par is the most famous Bhojpuri movie till date. First Maithili Film was Kanyadan (released in 1965 & Directed by Phani Majumdar). Film Tisari Kasam (Based on Renu's Mare Gaye Gulpham was directed By Shailendra & acted by legendry Raj Kapoor and Vahida Rahman) had a significant portion in Maithili language.
The cuisine of the Bihar upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, though the lower classes which form a significant population are traditional meat eaters with various fowl, pigs, small animals, snails, and field rats being part of their day-to-day existence.
However, unlike Gujarat or some communities of the South, meat is acceptable in the society of Bihar, as well, with even some sects of Brahmins such as the Mithila accepting fish as a food item. Traditional [high caste] Bihar society did not eat eggs and chicken, although other types of birds and fowls were acceptable.
The staple food is bhat, 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.
Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice also are special preparations of Anga.
Bihar is also home to Muslims who form about 18% population of this state and "Islamic culture and food" with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar unique existence of mixed culture. Famous cuisines are (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)
Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ka Lai, Laktho, Parwal ka Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna.
There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cooking, 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 Bihar non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.
Manjusha Kala or Angika Art of Anga Region, Madhubani Art of Mithila Region, Patna Kalam of Magadha Region.
Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the universities of Nalanda (one of the earliest universities of India dating back to the fifth century) and Vikramshila. Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these centres of learning.
Bihar saw a revival of sorts during the later part of the British rule when they established a University at Patna along with a few other centres of high learning, viz. Science College, Patna, Prince of Wales Medical College (Now Patna Medical College and Hospital), and Bihar Engineering College (Now National Institute of Technology, Patna). However, this early lead got lost in the post independence period when the politicians from Bihar lost out in the race of getting centres of education established in Bihar.
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.
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 children have done very well. Famed national institutes of learning such as IIT, IIM and AIIMS have always 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.
From the British times, Bihar has had a system of district schools (called Zila schools), located at the headquarters of the older districts of Bihar. These schools has an excellent reputation and were centres of excellence. In addition, there were several private and semi aided schools which were run and administered by local village communities. Several of them were known for their high quality education.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the state government took over management of most privately run schools. This adversely affected school education in the state since the state government was ill equipped to manage the schools through its bureaucrats who were trained for law and order duties. Though the state accorded them government recognition, the standard started to fall. Thankfully, the state did not take over the schools run by the Christian missionaries and these schools provided a fillip to quality education in Bihar.
As in other states, the central government runs a number of Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools) and Jawahar Navodaya Schools for rural students. Jawahar Navodaya Schools started by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi have been particularly successful in providing quality education to the weaker sections of the society.
The number of Private schools, including school-chains and Missionary Schools run by Christian Missionaries as well as Madrasas, or schools run by Muslim clerics, has increased in the post liberalisation era.
Most of the schools in Bihar are affiliated with the Bihar School Examination Board, while the Kendriya Vidyalay and a few other elite schools including the Christian Missionary Schools are affiliated to the ICSE and CBSE boards.
In spite of the poor condition of schools in Bihar, students from there are performing excellent with respect to other economically better off states of india.
 Universities & colleges
Bihar has twelve universities recognised by the state:
- Patna University, Patna.
- Magadh University, Bodh Gaya.
- Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur.
- Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur.
- Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga.
- Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University, Darbhanga.
- Jaiprakash University, Chapra.
- Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University, Madhepura.
- Vir Kunwar Singh University, Arrah.
- Nalanda Open University, Patna.
- Mazrul Haque Arabi-Farsi University, Patna.
- Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa.
The University of Patna, established in 1917 and among the oldest university on the Indian subcontinent, is the most prominent among these. It has 11 colleges, including the Science College, Patna, B.N.College, Patna, Patna Women's College, Patna College, Patna and Patna Medical College and Hospital, Patna. Magadh Mahila College.
Following is the list of engineering colleges :
Institutions funded by central government:
Institutions funded by Bihar government:
- Bhagalpur College of Engineering,Bhagalpur
- Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology, Muzaffarpur
- Maulana Azad College of Engineering and Technology,Patna.
- BIT Mesra extension centre,Patna
- R.P.Sharma Institute Of Tehnology,Patna
Following is a list of the medical colleges in Bihar:
- Patna Medical College and Hospital, and Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, at Patna
- Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital at Muzaffarpur
- Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital at Gaya
- Bhagalpur Medical College and Hospital at Bhagalpur
- Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital at Darbhanga
- L.N.Mishra Institute of Economic Growth and Social Changes,1,Bailey Road Patna.
- ICFAI National College, Patna ,BP Kiorala Marg (Bank Road),Patna -800 001
- Gaya College (Affiliated to Magadh University), Gaya, Bihar.
- Indian Institute of Business Management (Recognised by AICTE, New Delhi), Buddh Marg, Patna - 800 001.
- A.N. Sinha Institute of Social Sciences, Patna.
- Patna Women's College (Constituent college of Patna University), Bailey Road, Patna.
- Shanti Sewa Samiti's Indian Institute of Hotel Management, 11 IAS Colony, Kidwaipuri, Patna - 800 001.
Law Institutes :
- Chanakya National Law University, Patna.
- A. N. Law College (Affiliated to Magadh University), Gaya, Bihar.
International Yoga Institutes :
- Bihar School of Yoga, Munger.
- Institute of Silk Technology, Bhagalpur
Mass Media and Television:
- The Notre Dame Communication Center established by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1975 is the oldest TV training institute in the region.
- ^ Kamat. Biography: Anugrah Narayan Sinha. Kamat's archive. Retrieved on June 25, 2006.
- ^ Kamat. [www.kamat.com/kalranga/freedom/congress/c127.htm Great freedom Fighters]. Kamat's archive. Retrieved on February 25, 2006.
- ^ AICC. SATYAGRAHA LABORATORIES OF MAHATMA GANDHI. AICC. Retrieved on May 25, 2005.
- ^ The economic strangulation of Bihar. BusinessLine (February 3 2004). Retrieved on September 19, 2006.
 See also
- Cuisine of Bihar
- Music of Bihar
- Bihar Movement
- List of people from Bihar
- Divisions of Bihar
- Districts of Bihar
- History of Patna
 External links
- Jai Bihar - The Land Where God Chose to Take Birth
- Official website
- Profile at the Government of India website
- Bihar travel guide from Wikitravel