Contemporary Bihari culture

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The other day I was at one of my friend’s house for a casual dinner gathering of few closely connected families from all corners of India. The dinner lead into some music and subsequently to dancing. Every one was asked to dance to their regional song. For a Punjabi couple people asked them to dance on any Bhangra and they chose a sweet and popular Giddha song. The other marathi couple the demand was for marathi pop however they chose a sweet lavani song. When my turn came, no one knew any popular form of music or dance from bihar. They knew few bollywood songs ( mix of Hindi and Bhojpuri). Someone asked for “khaike pan banaras… “, some asked for “Jiya ho bihar ke lala…….”. The closest popular Bihari song that someone knew was ” lagawelu lipistic………..”.

This lead me thinking. The basic question in my mind was away from music or dance, but about the question of culture itself. How is culture of Bihar perceived outside Bihar? However, when I think about this question, the probe leads to another fundamental question – what do we know about culture of Bihar. (I am using the term Bihar as the old territory flanked by Himalayas in the north and chotanagpur plateau on the south flanked by river Sone and Ghaghara on west and Mahananda on the east).

As much as I thought over it, It gave me more questions than answers. This is the place which had one of the largest Universities in the world, this is the place where three religions took shape (Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkhism), this is where first concepts of democracy were tested, this is where Amrapali – the court dancer had the ability to argue with Buddha, this is the place where The Great Shankaracharya was defeated in knowledge by a women – and, I can go on. How come all of this is clouded by lewd and poor quality songs coming out of grade B and grade C movies. If you search Top 10 Bihari songs in youtube today, you will get the following

  1. Sadhe teen baje
  2. Lahangaa me Jangala laga du
  3. Hum cheej badi hain mast
  4. laharia luta e raja
  5. Ta dusre se kam chalbala
  6. ai ho dada kaisan piyawa ke
  7. netaji ego choli siya di
  8. saiya ke belna sankal ba

I feel sad to write some of the titles here. What happened to sweet songs of sohar, samdaon, birha; where are the great play songs of Bihari Thakur, the vibrant colours of mithila paintings and the local traditions of alha-rudal, pamaria, nat-kirtan – there is so much. Are the traditions of Sharda Sinha and Malini Awasthi loosing ground?

So, the point is – what do we do? Is there anything that is possible as a group? I may have my own point of view, but I leave this debate with all these questions and encourage all to think about it and write their views in similar post which we would like to post on this forum.

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