Festivals in Bihar - Bihar has a long list of celebrations among which Chhath puja, celebrated six days after the Deepavali is the most important. Observed mostly by the people of North Bihar, this puja is devoted for the worship of the Sun God. The other main festivals of Bihar include Kartik Purnima, Holi, Dussehra, Deepavali, Saraswati Puja, Bhaiya Dooj etc.
Chatth Puja in Bihar -
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 Bihar) named Karna. Karna is a powerful character in the epic Mahabharata....
Sama-Chakeva - This festival is celebrated in the Mithila region of Bihar dedicated to the brother- sister relationship. It is time when birds migrate from the Himalayas to the plains heralding the beginning of this festival with the girls making and decorating clay idols of various birds....
Ramnavami - Ramanavami festival is celebrated with traditional reverence and gaiety in Bihar with people observing seven days fasts. This is the auspicious day when lord Rama was born. Temples dedicated to Lord Rama are beautifully decorated and special prayers are carried out.
Makar-Sankranti - This festival marks the end of winter and beginning of the summer season. It is also known as Tila Sankranti. Every year it is observed on the 14th of January. People celebrate it by giving offerings to the poor.
Bihula - This festival is celebrated in the Eastern Bihar especially famous in Bhagalpur district. People pray to goddess Mansa for the welfare of their family.
Madhushravani - Madhushravani is celebrated in the month of Sawan (Hindu calendar August all over Mithilanchal in Bihar with enthusiasm and reverence.
Buddha Jayanti - On Buddha Jayanti in the month of Vaisakh (April/May), Buddhists from India and abroad throng to Bodhgaya and Rajgir.
Mahavir Jayanti - There are two major Jain festivals: Mahavir Jayanti (April) which is celebrated with great pomp on Parasnath hill and Deo Diwali (10 days after diwali) which marks the final liberation of Lord Mahavira in Bihar.
Saurath Sabha - Every year for a fortnight in June, the village of Saurath in Madhubani district witnesses a unique gathering of Mithila Brahmins from all over India.It is called Saurath Sabha and is the biggest marriage market. Parents of marriageable children bring horoscopes and negotiate marriages in a vast mango grove.
Fairs of Bihar
Sonepur Cattle Fair
Legend apart, the famous Sonepur fair in more of a cattle trading centre where incredible number of birds and cattle are brought from different parts of the country. Besides, the bewildering array of wares are on sale and add to this the numerous folk shows about which the BBC once remarked, "there’s nothing like the Sonepur Cabaret." The time to start is very early in the morning when the fog is suddenly pierced by the sun and the huge gathering has just emerged from the holy dip in the cold absolving waters. The mela that lasts upto a fortnight, provides enough time to talk to the parrots, watch the elephants being bathed leisurely, followed by ear splitting trumpets and then the artists working up with colourful designs to decorate the elephants as if the pachyderm has been tatooed all over, see the horses being tested for their speed and stamina, big bulky buffaloes being milked and likewise all other animals demonstrating their skill, strength and productivity.
By midday, it is the cacophony of strong decibels pouring in from all corners as the huge gathering becomes denser with more and more people adding to the sound and sight of the landscae. Ash smeared, saffron clothed holy men blow their conches and bang their gongs. Loudsspeakers, from various folk shows and jugglers rent the air together with the unison from the animals. Much before the sun sets in, flames and fumes of dung fire burning at different places appear to screen the sky in a very amusing way, as if some mediveval army has just camped for the night. and it is time to share a gossip with one of the villagers who may better summarise the stock and sale of t he cattles for the day. Zesty snacks together with tea comes in from the open air restaurant.
Makar Sankranti Mela
Famous Makar Sankranti mela is another festival unique to Rajgir in the month of Paus, corresponding to mid January. Devotees make flower offerings to the deities of the temples at Hot springs and bathe in the holy water. Another historic place associated with fifteen day long Makar Sankranti mela is the Mandar hills in Banka district. Puranic legends accounts for a great deluge which witnessed the creation of a Asura that threatened the gods. Vishnu cut off the Asura’s head and piled up the body under the weight of the Mandar hill. The famous panchjanya - the sankh (counch shell) used in the Mahabharat war is believed to have been found here on the hills. Traces, akin to serpent coil can be seen around the hill and it is believed that the snake god offered himself to be used as a rope for churning the ocean to obtain the amrit (nectar).
Gaya - Pitrapaksha Mela
Arond september the sleepy town of Gaya is agog with people who come here for the famous Pitrapaksha mela or the ancestor worship typified in Sraddha ritual. It is time for the Gayalis (the descendants of Magga Brahmans who were once devotees of Shiva but later converted to Vaishnavism) to be prepared for the vedic Sraddha ceremonies or the pindan - a mandatory Hind rite that is supposed to bring salvation to the departed soul. In the early Dharmasastras, Vishnu provides a list of over 50 tirthas but it proclaims that dead ancestors pray to God for a son who would offer pinda (lymph of rice) to them at Gaya.
The tradition traces its history to the time of Buddha, who is believed to have performed the first pindan here. Turning the pages of earlier history, one comes across the Puranic legend that ascribes Gaya as one of the holiest spots of the world. The Asura, named Gaya become so powerful that the gods felt threatened and thus thought of eliminating him. As a precondition to his death, the Asura demanded that be should be buried in the holiest spot of the world. This place is Gaya.