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Mithila - Art, Culture & Much More

Updated: May 4


Mithila, also called Tirhut and Tirabhukti, is a geological and social region of the Indian subcontinent limited by the Mahananda River in the east, the Ganges in the south, the Gandaki River in the west, and by the lower regions of the Himalayas in the north. In India, that region consists of Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, East Champaran, Khagaria, Madhepura, Madhubani, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Saharsa, Samastipur, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Supaul, Vaishali and West Champaran.

The local language in Mithila is Maithili, and it's speakers are referred to as Maithils. The region’s name evolved from Mythical King ‘Miti’ which means “Soil”. It is said that the capital of ancient Mithila Janpad was Janakpur in the Dhanusa district of Nepal.

Mithila region is specifically mentioned in Ramayana, as it is known as the birth place of Sita ( The wife of Lord Rama).

This Mithila is more renowned for being the birth place of Goddess Sita. Because of the introduction of Goddess Sita in Mithila, consistently Janaki Navami is praised in Nepal.

The name Mithila is normally used to refer to the Videha Kingdom, just as to the advanced domains that fall inside the antiquated limits of Videha. In the eighteenth century, when Mithila was as yet managed to some degree by the Raj Darbhanga, the British Raj added the area without remembering it as an august state.

Culture

Mithila or Maithil culture refers to the way of life which started in the Mithila area. Mithila culture is well known for its language, dance, Paag(headgear), celebrations, Madhubani Paintings, food, and above all, the existence which was spent by Buddha and Mahavir. Both Mahavir and Buddha have lived and talked in Mithila.

It is the birthplace of Janak, Seeta, Shatanan, Vishwamitra, Yajyavlakya, Maitryee, Gargi, Gautam etc. in epical age.

Lord Mahavir was its southern part Vaishali. Lord Mahavira was the last Tirthankara Jainism, he was brought into the world in Bihar in 599 B.C. Mahavira was known for his supernatural information.

In Bodh Gaya, Gautama Buddha achieved illumination under the tree, known as Bodhi Tree. Because of the impact of Gautam Buddha and his movements and lessons, the world's first college, Nalanda, was set up. It ran effectively for quite a long time, and around 3 thousand global understudies were considered.

Mihtila had unending number of great scholars like Mandan mishra- Bharati(from mahishi, Saharsa), Vachaspati I(Thadhi), Kali Das(Ucchaith, Benipatti),Vachaspati II( Samaul, Madhubani), Udyanacharya(karian, samastipur), Shankar(Sarisab, Darbhanga), Murari, Pakshdhar,etc. grear writers- Jyotitishwar (varnratnakar 1224 AD) in olden days.

In Modern times great poets & Writers like Vidyapati, Chanda Jha, Surendra Jha 'Suman', Baidyanath Mishra 'Yatri' who wrote in Hindi also as Nagarjuna, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Arsi Prasad Singh, Janki Ballabh Shastri, Rambriksh Benipuri, Bhikhari Thakur, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', and some more.

Art

Mithila art, quite possibly the most renowned art from India, is more popularly known as Madhubani Painting. Origin of this art can be traced back to the times of Ramayana. It is accepted that King Janak of Mithila from Ramayana employed nearby specialists of Mithila art to adorn the exceptional Mithila workmanship for his little girl Sita's wedding to Rama..

Mithila art provides livelihood to people confined to small geographical areas. Skills are passed on through from one generation to other and the content & style have remained unchanged. Thus, Mithila Art has received GI status. This female dominated art tradition is passed through generations from mother to daughter. In present times, whole families are involved in this art, not just the ladies of the house. This Art is still practiced and kept alive by artists & their families and institutions in various districts & villages spread across Mithila region.

There are 5 distinct types of styles, based on the artist’s community, These distinctive styles are: Bharni, Kachni, Tantrik, Godna & Kohbar.

Strong characteristics of Mithila art include- usage of vibrant natural colours, no empty spaces on the canvas, and minimal shading. It's strokes are precise & bold at the same time.

These eye catching paintings are for every occasions and festivals. The themes, on which these paintings are based, are predominantly nature & life events and religious stories & folklore. This art depicts people, their life events (Weddings, celebrations etc), their association with nature (Tree, Forest, Sun, Moon, Tulsi etc) & deities from the ancient epics like Ramayana, Shiv Puran, Krishna Leela etc.

Mithila painting was unknown to the outside world until the massive earthquake of 1934 when the houses and walls tumbled down and it was British colonial officer in Madhubani District, William G. Archer,discovered the painting found in the rubble. This art form has gained national and international fame since then, and is much in demand by collectors.

Mithila art was traditionally done on mud walls & floors of huts, but now they are also done on wall, cloth, handmade paper & canvas. In current times anything can be used as canvas from wall, paper, cloth to textile & apparel to on lifestyle and décor products.. To know more about this art - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MurkXG3_k74

Language

The Maithili language was remembered for the eighth timetable of the Indian Constitution in 2003. It tends to be utilized in schooling and government. This language is additionally included as a discretionary paper in the UPSC tests.

This language is spoken basically in the Bihar and Jharkhand in the locale of Darbhanga, Begusarai, Katihar, Purnia, Madhubani, Dhanbad, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Deoghar, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Ranchi, Sitamarhi, and so on .

Maithil Culture is more renowned in "Darbhanga". Darbhanga is likewise called the "Heart of Mithilanchal". The Maithili language spoken in this area is the best language on the planet.


FOOD

Maachh, makhan and paan are part of the identity of Mithila. Fish is the most popular food in Mithila, used as a main dish on any occasion. There is a custom of eating Boiled Rice based lunch and Roti based dinner and breakfast. The food culture is both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. People from Mithilanchal enjoy both veg as well as non-veg dishes and cuisine of Mithilanchal area is unique in its own way.

Dahi – Chuda, Ghughani, Sattu, Litti-Chokha, Kadhu Bar, Makhana Kheer, Tilkor Tarua, Mithila. Maus(Mutton/Cheicken/Squails Curry), Machchak Jhor(Fish Curry) and many more forms the most famous and regular dishes of Mithilanachal.

Paan is an important refreshment item on every occasion.

All preparations served together in a platter and consumed at once . Since there is no course wise meal practice therefore there is no well defined Gastronomique practice too, and hence people give equal importance to all kinds of preparations and take pleasure in enjoying each and every delicacy to the fullest.

Maithils always give immense priority to milk products in their food which could perfectly be measured with this old saying “ Aadi Ghee aur Ant Dahi, oyi Bhojan k Bhojan kahi” ( A meal is the Meal that starts with Ghee and ends with Yogurt).


Festivals

The Mithila region, being a rich state of diversity, celebrates several festivals. Apart from the festivals there are many traditions which call for the celebrations. The Mundan ceremony is a very popular tradition in Mithila. A child's hair is shaved for the first time, accompanied by bhoj (a party) and (sometimes extravagant) celebrations.

The Maithili marriage traditions are important to the people and unique to the region. The custom includes four days of marriage ceremonies called: Barsait,Chautrthi, Madhushravni, Kojagara, and finally Dwiragman (the first homecoming of the bride).

Continue reading to know more about various festivals.


CHHATH PUJA

It is one of the most important festivals of Mithilanchal. Observed mostly by the people of North Bihar, it is dedicated to the worship of the Sun God and therefore, is also known as ‘SuryaShashti’.

During the Chhath Puja, also known as Chhath parab in some places, people thank the Sun God for supporting life and seek his blessings. People also ask Lord Surya for the longevity and prosperity of their family members and loved ones. Devotees offer their gratitude to the Sun God along with the goddess Usha, the first rays of the morning, and Pratyusha, last ray of the evening.


JUDE SHEETAL

Jude Sheetal or Maithili New Year is the celebration of the first day of the Maithili new year. This day usually falls on 14 April on the Gregorian calendar by the Maithils in the Mithila region of India and Nepal.

On this occasion in Mithila people consume Badi – bhaat prepared a day before. In this maithil festival, people donate earthen pitchers containing water to brahmins.

NAAG PANCHAMI

This is the festival of the snake god. On this day in mithila, people offer snake milk and rice corn as a sign of devotion. Devotees on this day paste pictures of Nag over their doorways with cow-dung.

CHAUTH CHANDRA

This festival of Mithila is a worship of the moon god for the welfare of the family. People prepare dishes like poori and pedokia and consume them after the puja in the evening.

KOJAGRA

“Kojagara” is celebrated to propitiate the Goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi. This festival is observed on the night of the full moon in the month of Ashwin. “Kojagara “, literally means the night of awakening.

SAMA CHAKEVA

Mithilanchal dedicates this festival to the celebration of the brother-sister relationship. Sama represents the tradition of this land as well as the art of making idols. Sama festival starts with the conviviality of the pair of birds, sama-chakeva. Girls make clay idols of a variety of birds and decorate them in their own fixed ways. Various rituals are performed and the festival happily ends with the ‘vidai’ of sama and with a wish that these flora and fauna return to this land the next year.

BHATRI-DWITIYA

This is a festival of brothers and sisters in Mithila. Brother visits his sister's house and takes blessings from her. The sister observes a fast until her brother’s arrival, she also prepares food for her brother.

DEVOTTHAN EKADASHI

This vrat of Mithila is the worship of Lord Vishnu. People practice this festival to wake up the god who is already sleeping for four months.


Important Places

Janakpur - According to sage valmiki , the author of “Ramayana” the holy epic of Hindus , Janakpur was the capital of king Janak who ruled mithila many years ago.Another saint “Tulsidas” also had described mithila as Janak’s capital.Janakpur now lies in Nepal.

Dhanusha is a place near Janakpur in Nepal.It is believed that “Sita – Swayamvar” took place here.The famous bow of Shiva “Pinaka” was broken by Lord Rama as described in Ramayana.

Sitamarhi is a district in Bihar situated on the bank of river Lakhandei ( tribe of Bagmati) approx 50 km from Darbhanga.In Valmiki Ramayan, it is written that Janak found a girl child while ploughing field and he named her Sita.The god gifted Sita brought an end to the year long drought and famine in Mithila. The place is now called Janki Mandir (Temple) in Sitamarhi.

Ahilya Sthan - The place lies in Darbhanga district of Mithila region.It is believed that Lord Rama on his way to Dhanusha for Swyamwar freed a saint wife “Ahilya” from curse which turned her to a stone.

Maheshi is a village in Saharsa district in Mithila region.The famous debate between Shankaracharya and Mandan Mishra was held at this place centuries ago.The debate changed the course of Hinduism reformation by Shankaracharya.Shankaracharya was successful in defeating Mandan Mishra but was defeated by his wife Bharati.

Balirajgarh is about a distance of 30 km from Madhubani district of Mithila in BabuBarhi one can find the ancient remains of the kingdom of legendary king Bali ,the Son of Prahlad. After being neglected for so many years , the archeological survey of India , has recently identified this place as a site of historical importance.Efforts are now on to excavate the remains and find the story.

Kaplieshwar is located in kakraul of Rahika in Madhubani district of Mithila region.It is believed that a ” Shiva Linga ” was established by ancient sage Kapil here.For many years it was managed by Raj Darbhanga.

Jiwarpur village has got world wide recognition for re-establishing mithila art on world map.The village is famous among western foreigners for purchase of Mithila art and other stuffs like sikki art etc.The village can be approached by a rickshaw from Madhubani station.

Bhagalpur is a city of historical importance on the southern banks of the river Ganges in the Indian state of Bihar. It is the 3rd largest city of Bihar and also the headquarters of Bhagalpur district and Bhagalpur division.

Crop

Agriculture is the main economic activity of the region. The main crops are paddy, wheat, pulses, moong, urad, arhar, jute (with a recent decline in its production), and maize.

Mithila Makhana or Makhan (मिथिला मखान) is a special type of aquatic plant fox nut cultivated in Mithila region of Bihar and Nepal.Now Makhana is a GI tagged, as it is primarily grown in Mihila only. More than 90% of Makaana is from all over the world of grown in Mithila.


Conclusion


'पग-पग पोखर, माछ, मखान' (step to step there are pounds, fishes, and Makhan) marks the region's cultural identity and Maithili pride.

In Mithila One of the exciting things about any culture or art form is that it travels through borders or boundaries and has the capacity to enchant people irrespective of their origin, caste, or religion by its sheer creative brilliance and craft. Probably, this might be the reason behind the saying ‘Art has no religion, no boundary‘



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