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Bihar - People

Hospitality to strangers, self respect and devotion to work are some of the characteristics of Biharis. Simple in their living, one canpeople of bihar find tribal as well as non-tribal people in the state. They can be better classified as non-tribals of the north and aboriginees of the south. The latter are tribal in character. The non-tribal group belong to various castes, prominent among which are: kayasthas, bhumihars, rajputs, and the so-called backward castes - yadavs, koeris, musahars, chamars, and others. The aboriginees belong to various tribes, among which are: santhals, mundas, oraons, and others. Regarding physical appearance of the people, the non-tribals or people of the north have smooth features with comparatively and generally a fairer complexion. The tribals are negroid in feature and are relatively shorter in stature According to the 2011 census, the population of the state of Bihar is 103,804,637 persons, consisting of 52.2 percent males and 47.8 percent females. The average population of a district of the state is 2,731,701. The population of the state is predominantly rural, with 89 percent of the population residing in rural areas. Patna (5,772,804) and Sheikhpura (634,927) are most populated and least populated districts of the state.

According to Census 2011, Bihar has recorded 25.07 percent decadal population growth. The district with highest decadal growth is Madhepura (30.65) and the district with lowest decadal growth is Gopalganj (18.83). The urban decadal growth rate (35.11) is higher when compared to rural growth rate (23.9). From the data, it could be seen that decadal growth rate of urban females (37.07) is more than urban males (33.4), whereas the decadal growth rate of rural females (23.43) is lower than rural males (24.33). This could be a pointer towards increased acceptance of girl child (reduced female foeticide/infanticide) and women empowerment in urban areas. The household size in the state of Bihar roughly stands at six members per household. The number of members per household in rural areas is about six, whereas in urban areas it is about 6.5.

As per 2011 Census, the number of literates in Bihar is 54,390,254 taking the state’s literacy rate to 63.82 percent. Out of these male literates are 73.4 percent and female literates are 53.3 percent. The urban literacy rate stands at 78.75 percent (male 84.42 percent and female 72.36 percent) compared to rural literacy rate of 61.83 percent (male 71.9 percent and female 50.82 percent).

Time seems to have stood still in Bihar, and it is the children who are the casualties: 3.8 million in the age group 6 to 14 years remain out of school, 59 percent of boys drop out before class 5 for economic reasons, and 8 out of 10 girls do not complete primary school. Fifty-three percent of the population is below the poverty line, and 54 percent of the children are malnourished. Children from Bihar and Jharkhand make up the largest number of runaways, 30 percent of slum dwellers in Delhi are from Bihar, and every eighth illiterate woman lives in Bihar.

After 1961, sex ratio has always remained unfavourable to females and the general trend during this period, over the decades, is that of decreasing sex ratio with exceptions of increases in 1961 and the present Census i.e. Census of India 2001. There has been an increase of 14 points in the sex ratio of Bihar at 2001 Census (921) vis-à-vis 1991 Census (907).

What once used to be the debating ground scholars debating ground in Mithila has now become saurath Sabha or the Mithila marriage market near Madhubani. In the summer of June, Mithila Brahmins prefer to gather in the vast mango grove (thanks to the Raja, Raghav Singh, the Mithila ruler of Darbhanga for gifting the land for the ever gathering crowd of Mithila matchmakers) in the village of Surath to explore the possibilites, discuss horoscope and finally to negotiate marriages within the community but at least five generations beyond the family.

The girl’s father is on the move trying to locate a prospective bridegroom and so in the Ghatak (middleman), all the more serious to earn commissions on marriage fixtures. Once the prospective families pass through the ordeal of question session and feel satisfied by the initial scrutiny of the horoscopes, they move on to the Panjikar (registrars) who verifies the records and credentials to ensure that matrimontial alliance was not being performed within the prohibited degrees (within the seventh generation on paternal side and the fifth on the maternal side). His satisfaction earns a talpatra (palm leaf certificate) marked in red symbolising ‘no objection certificate’ which permits the families to establish matrimonial alliance. The Panjikar too receives a token and he blesses the girl’s father, " May your daughter bathe in milk and bear many sons." The successful families finally call off the day with a visit to the nearby Shiva temple.

The people of Mithila are believed to have followed the Panji Prabhadha (system of recorded genealogy) since the fourteenth century. These records were maintained by the Panjikars, who were later to examine the validity and purity of marriage settlements. In fact one was supposed to be are of his ancestors names and a daily rite of Tarpan ensured that people offered oblations of water in the name of each ancestor upto six or seven generations. If one recalls the name of one’s acestors daily, one can not forget their names.

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Page last modified: 24-10-2021 15:29:42 ZULU