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.