Bihar:Arts;Muslim Calligraphy;Dancing Boys or Bhakliyas;Bhajanias & Kirtaniyas;Classical Music;Folk Songs;Folk Dances

The Maithils, however, succeeded to some extent in preserving their rich art traditions. Their Brahmins and Kayasthas, especially their womenfolk, continued their traditional practices which kept alive the ordinary domestic arts of painting earthen pots and mud walls with gods and goddesses. Since the Muslim Unitarian was hardly, if ever, attracted towards such practices, he felt no scruples in laying violent hands on those which the delicate hands of the artist had so deftly produced.
Muslim Calligraphy
Islam gave to India not only arabesques, the style of decoration with intertwined leaves of trees and scroll-work full of foliage and flowers, but also paper, which was imported from China. The people of Mithila and Magadh did not immediately give up their pal-leaves or bhojapatra, but gradually gave in and started using paper. The oldest paper manuscripts in Bihar are therefore as old as the twelfth century A.D. The Bari Dargah of H. Sharf-ud-din Ahmad Maneri contains the earliest (July 1222) and most artistic Tughra inscription in Arabic Naskh. On a slab lying within the enclosure of H. Fazlullah Gosain's shrine in Daira, Biharsharif, is found yet another inscription (8 March 1265) in the Naskh style. There are several other inscriptions of this date in Biharsharif town. The Arabic inscriptions (1309,1315) of Hatim Khan, one of the Governors of Bihar, and those of Firoz Shah Tughluq, which are mostly in 'Thulth', represent the style and calligraphy then in vogue. All these calligraphic inscriptions are works of art. The letters are carved in relief and are exquisite in form.

Dancing Boys or Bhakliyas
In early nineteenth-century Bihar, certain professional classes alone and rich men extended generous patronage to musicians, especially to superior female artistes who were allowed small endowments, cultivated music. There was also a class of dancing boys called Bhakliyas. These dancers, who had no fixed abode, came to Bihar to celebrate Holi and in the month of Chaitra (March-April) danced and sang in honour of Radha and Krishna. The Hindu Kathaks went about in groups of three or four and sang with tambura, sarangi, majira and dholak accompaniment, mostly from Jaideva's Geet Govinda. They sang common songs and love songs of Bengal as well.
Bhajanias & Kirtaniyas
While the Yajaks were employed at funerals, the Bhajaniyas and Kirtaniyas were employed by Brahmans to sing holy songs after the mourning prayer. Roshan Chouki parties were employed to play on pipes and drums and also to accompany Muharram processions. The pamarias, men and women, who were mostly Muslims, thronged to sing where marriages were being held and births had taken place and were satisfied only when they were given a handsome remuneration. Most women sang, and still sing at marriage ceremonies.
Classical Music
After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, classical music revived at Patna where the rulers and their satellites patronized the classical types. It was on this account that there was a regular inflow of artistes from the neighbouring provinces, Delhi, Lucknow and Benaras. Of the various classical forms of music the one in vogue since the time of Akbar was the Dhrupad. Wen Mohammad Shah succeeded Aurangzeb, in whose reign the Dhrupad had suffered a setback along with other forms, the form received an impetus and patronage, for Mohammad Shah was himself an exponent of the Dhrupad and patron of the Khayal style, which was popularized by such Banarasi exponents as Sadarang and Adarang who, it may be surmised, might have visited Patna and been instrumental in getting the Khayal style of singing introduced in Bihar. Since there was a close cultural contact between Banaras and Patna, it would not be wrong to assume that the Banaras School might have influenced the classical styles of music at Patna.
The craze of Patna, however, was the Thumri, which, it is said, received a distinct personality from the gayikas (singers) of Patna City about the middle of the nineteenth century. Besides the Thumri, the gayikas and other local musicians specialized in Ghazal and Dadra. The Chaiti was a native of Patna and it has had its own folk appeal. Kajri has always been popular. The late Ustad Aman Khan of Rampur, who had made Patna his home, was a celebrated master of the Dhrupad and Dhamar styles of classical music. Badi (Elder) Zohra Bai sang Khayal, Thumri and Tappa. Among other artistes were Baurahi Kaneez, Gul Mohammad Khan, Roshan Ara Begum, Haider, Imam Bandi and Ramdasi, Ghafoor Khan, a disciple of Ganpat Rai alias Bhaiyaji of Gwalior, was a celebrated harmonium player. Originally a Veena player (Veenakar), Bhaiyaji had taken to harmonium much later in life. Together with the late Kesho Maharaj, who played on the Pakhawaj and, later on Tabla, he inspired Bihari amateurs to cultivate music.
The nawabs and zamindars in the countryside were also great patrons of classical music. On festive occasions, such as Holi, Dussehra and Diwali and on the occasions of marriages mahfils were arranged and musicians and dancers were invited to give demonstration of their art in gaily decorated pandals. Thus they built up a healthy art tradition, which has kept classical music alive to this day in Bihar. Some of the most notable classical artistes of Bihar in the second quarter of the present century were: Pt. Rameshwar Pathak, a sitar player from Darbhanga Raj, Pt. Deepraj, a Dhrupad singer from Bettia Raj and Magan Khwas, a singer of Khayal and Thumri, from the Panchgachhia Estate, Raghu Jha (d.1967) also from the Panchgachhia Estate, sang Khayal and Vidyapati sangeet. Ghana Ram of the Dumraon Estate had composed sargams or musical notations in ragas in a style that was unique. From time to time people of Bihar enjoyed a feast of classical music from the late Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, Pt. Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Pt. Narayanrao Vyas, Pt. Manhar Barve, D.V.Paluskar and others.
Folk Songs
Bihar amateurs all over the state mostly sing folk songs. Females in groups sing Jhumar or Barahmasa when they are engaged in paddy plantation. When grinding corn in "jata or chakki", they sing jatusari. Sohar is sung on the occasion of childbirth and Sumangali when marriage rites are to conclude.
Folk Dances
The folk-dance tradition in Bihar has distinct streams. The folk dances of Mithila are religious, social or sectarian. In the religious type, gods and goddesses are invoked through the dance, performed to the rhythm of folk songs and such musical instruments as the Dhol (drum), Pipahi (an instrument like the Shehnai), Pakhawaj and Danka. The Ram-Leela nach, Bhagat nach, Kirtaniya nach, Kunjawi nach, Naadi nach, Vidyapat nach and Puja Arti nach are all religious folk dances of Mithila. Songs and musical instruments accompany folk dances for men and the footwork of the dancers is in tune with the swar and Tal of the music. Some of the dances, exclusively for women are Jhijhiya nach, Jata-Jatin nach, Sama- Chakwa nach, etc. The only mixed group dance is the Saturi dance of Mithila, apart from the mixed folk dances of the tribal people. In the family dance, called Bakho nach, the husband and wife participate on the occasion of the birth of a child or on a similar joyous occasion. The different lower-caste groups have their own exclusive dances, such as Chamar natua, Kanala Mai nach, Dampha-Basuli nach (only for shoemakers), etc. In addition to these, there are also some other popular folk dance forms called Pamariya nach, Videshia nach, Kathputli nach, Launda nach and Dhobia nach. Launda, Pamaria and Dhobia dances are popular in the Bhojpuri speaking areas of Bihar. Only males perform Launda and Pamaria nach. Boys dressed in woman costumes and guises are a must on the marriage and other auspicious occasions. Dhobia nach is a popular community dance form performed on marriages and other auspicious occasions in the washer men's society of Bhojpur. Jharni dance is especially a Muslim community folk dance. Sad songs and depiction of grief and sorrow is the specialty of this dance form, which is performed on the eve of Muharram.

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