Festivals are a reflection of the rich diversity and also bring communities together. Feasts and festivities are tools to bring exuberance and enthusiasm to the monotonous life. While the celebrations happen all over the year in India, festivals are the time when cultures are seen at their vibrant best.
Coming to Bihar, a state where people from different religions coexist harmoniously is a true manifestation of rich culture and traditions. Festivals are the soul of Bihar and each festival has intriguing fables attached to it. Festivities here are marked with fasts, feasts, and folk songs that are peculiar to this culturally bound state.
If you are looking for some distinct and noteworthy experience of festivals in this part of the country, then here is a piece of information. Take a look:
Chhath Puja is the famous and main festival of Bihar. Bihar is an ancient land having deep roots in religion. Folks in Bihar, being spiritually inclined, celebrate many festivals to worship God. Chhath Puja is the only Vedic festival that is dedicated to the Sun God. The festival is celebrated twice a year, in Chaitra Maas (March) and in Kartik Maas (November). It is 4 days of festivity where people fast and offer prayers during the sunset gathering near the river banks.
They also sing folk songs and dance in praise of Surya Dev and Chhatti Maiyya. People in Bihar have immense faith in this festival and they maintain sanctity and purity in their households. It is believed that through this festival many negative energies are eradicated from the surrounding.
Makar Sankranti is the harvest festival of Bihar. Similar to Pongal in South India and Lohri in North India, Makar-Sankranti, known as Tila Sankrant in Bihar incorporates religious as well as mythological significance. Every year in January, Makar Sankranti Mela is held at Rajgir. During this festival, devotees offer flowers to the deities in the temples and take a dip in the holy water of hot springs.
Another part of Bihar that lies in the Banka district celebrates the festival by organizing a massive fair at Mandar Hills. With its origin in Mahabharata, it is believed that the conch shell -the shank of Lord Krishna has been found on the hills. To celebrate the mythological roots, Makar Sankranti is therefore amongst the most famous and most auspicious festivals in Bihar.
Bihar being the place where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment, Buddha Jayanti is, therefore, the revered festival in Bihar. It is celebrated in Bodh Gaya and Rajgir on a full moon day (Purnima) in May. Buddha Poornima is the most sacred day for Buddhists which is why an outsized number of individuals belonging to the Buddhist community pay a visit to the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.
This can be considered to be the holiest shrine for Buddhists. The celebration begins with a procession from the 80-ft tall Buddha statue up to the Bodhi tree behind the temple. The temple premises and adjoining locality are decorated with typical colorful flags of Buddhism. Except for the disciples of Buddha, the festival is additionally attended by many international tourists.
It is Asia’s largest cattle fair that is celebrated in Sonepur and has its roots in ancient mythology and folklore. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges and since then the fair is being held once a year in November. Except for being famous for the trade of domestic cattle, this festival is also famous for taking a holy dip in the river and offering prayer at Hariharnath Temple.
As Sonepur is situated at the confluence of river Ganga and Gandhak, it is regarded as a holy site. During the fair, handicrafts and handlooms are also displayed along with folk dances and magic shows. One of the many attractions of the Sonepur cattle fair is the sight of well-decorated elephants that are delivered to the fair with the aim of selling. Every year the fair observes a large number of Indian as well as foreign tourists.
Also Read: 15 Best Places To Visit In Bihar
An annual event, Rajgir Mahotsav is a festival of dance and music. A three-day affair in Rajgir which is an ancient capital of the Magadha Empire in Bihar is held in the last week of October. Organized by the Tourism Department of Bihar, the event is a cultural depiction of diverse art forms and folk dances and music of Bihar.
Many renowned artists from all over the world take part in the cultural event besides organizing various engaging activities and contests such as martial arts, tonga race, mehndi art, Mahila Utsav, etc. The vibrant amusement of the fair attracts many tourists from around the world.
Celebrated in November, the ten-day festival Sama-Chakeva has a special significance in Mithila. It marks the bond between brothers and sisters and it begins soon after the arrival of colorful migratory birds that are regionally named Sama And Chakeva. It tells the story of Sama who is believed to be the daughter of Lord Krishna. She was falsely accused to which her father got furious, eventually punishing her by turning her into a bird.
It is believed that the love and sacrifice of her brother Chakeva helped her to get back to her human form. The festival is celebrated in a unique style by representing the local art form of making idols. The hand-made clay idols of these brother-sister birds are then immersed in the river by the girls following certain rituals and traditions. Folklores being exquisite in Bihar, every festival is incomplete without folk songs. The festival ends with a wish of their return in the following year and bidding adieu (Vidai) by singing folk songs.
Also known as Bishari Puja, Bihula is an extrusive festival that is celebrated in the Bhagalpur district and the eastern part of Bihar. Falling on the fifth day of Shravan Maas (August), Bihula is a festival that proclaims the regional Manjusha Art. There is also an intriguing fable attached to the celebration of Bihula and why Goddess Mansa is worshipped on this auspicious day. Bihula was a girl who was blessed that she will never be a widow, however, due to the conspiracy of Mansa, her husband Lakshinder died with a snakebite on the night of her wedding.
To get back her husband's life from the Gods in the heavens, Behula sailed with her dead husband in a raft and after reaching Heaven, she pleaded with all the Gods. She was granted to get her husband back to life on the condition that Chand, Lakshinder’s father would give a divine offering to Goddess Mansa. Desperate to save his son's life, Chand gave in and Mansa got the position of Goddess in heaven. She gave back the life of all the six sons of Chand. Since then the ritual is being followed every year by the people who pray to the Goddess Mansa to protect their families.
Harbinger of the monsoon season, Madhushravani is celebrated all over Mithilanchal in August (Sawan) by worshipping the Snake God Vishahara and the family Goddess Gosaun. Kheer and traditional Ghorjaur along with fried vegetables, mangoes, and jackfruit are offered as prasad. During the festival, married women in the Mithila region fast for the long life of their husbands, mango groves, and courtyards in Mithila are filled with beautiful brides.
Newly married girls stay at their parent’s homes and observe a strict fast for 13 days. Traditionally, the newlywed bride is accompanied by five married women to feast together on the savories that are sent from her husband’s home.
Home to many temples, the holy city Gaya in Bihar is where the famous Pitrapaksha Mela is held. It is considered as one of the significant fairs in India where rituals such as taking a dip in a river, worshipping ancestors, etc are performed in order to bring salvation to the souls of the loved ones who left for heavenly abode. Observed during the month of September, Pitrapaksha Mela is held every year for 16 days when a large number of people from different regions visit Gaya to offer prayers with utmost devotion. It is believed that Lord Buddha was the first person who performed the ritual of Pind Daan here and since then the tradition is being followed by many Hindus.
Organized at Rajgir, Malmas Mela is one of the most significant and grand fairs in India that is attended by a large number of devotees. It is a belief that during the sacred month of Malmas, also known as Adhimas, the 33 crores Hindu Gods and Goddesses make their dwelling in Rajgir, and therefore this period is marked with prayers and offerings for the entire month. A grand fair is organized during this period and lakhs of devotees mark this auspicious month by paying homage to the holy land of Rajgir and taking bath in a hot water spring to wash off their sins.
Other than these, there are a plethora of other festivals that are celebrated in Bihar. Our traditions and rituals are mapped through various festivals and fairs. Festivals of India are celebrated in three categories - state, religion, and community; therefore every day is a new celebration here. Tourists from around the globe flock to India to learn about our traditions. Bihar Tourism Board has made good arrangements for tourists, so don’t fret much, just plan your trip with the circuit planner tool or simply pick an exclusive holiday package from Adotrip. Grab before it’s gone! Get the best travel experience because, with us, nothing is far!