Temples, Shrines And Spiritual Places Across Bihar
Bihar is the harbour where the mind inculcates with the solace in ancient temples and gaiety of the traditions. Quite often known as the ‘Land of enlightenment and Nirvana’, Bihar encourages the vibe of spirituality across hundreds of temples. Bihar is also known as the fascinating land of great religious leaders like Gautama Buddha, Lord Mahavir and Guru Gobind Singh. It has been a major centre of learning and home to the ancient universities of Nalanda (established 450 CE), Odantapura (established 550 CE) and Vikramashila (established 783 CE).
In ancient India, the area that is now Bihar was considered a centre of power, learning, and culture. The architectural heritage of Bihar can be observed from the large number of ancient monuments spread throughout the state. Patna is the capital and largest city of the state of Bihar, and Patliputra (ancient Patna) was home to the Maurya Empire and Gupta Empire. It is an amalgamation of three distinct regions: Magadh, Mithila, and Bhojpur, split by the river Ganges, which flows from west to east and floods the land to keep it fertile. The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit word “Vihara” (which means abode). The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist Vihara, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods.
Tourists throughout India horde every year to visit the famous Mahabodhi Temple, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, located at Bodhgaya. Under the reign of Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, this grand brick temple was built to experience the spiritual peace of Buddhism. This architectural brilliance is daunted with several motifs and sculptures, depicting the life of Lord Buddha. The famous Bodhi Tree also marks its presence, showering its blessings on all the pilgrims.
The Visnupad Mandir is a well-known haven to the pilgrims of Lord Vishnu, where the footprints of the Lord Vishnu are placed. Most devotees arrive during the Pitra Paksha ritual of the “Pinda Dana”, the last ritual of the departed souls.
To assimilate the salvation in Jainism, devotees set foot to the Jal Mandir, the white fascinating landmark preaching piousness and enlightenment. Legend suggests that Mahavir attained ‘Moksha’ in the Jal Mandir. The temple is a visual treat to the eyes due to the placement amidst water, presumably from where the name is derived. The ‘Charan Paduka’ of the 24th Tirthankara Lord, Mahavir is also kept here. Jains also visit the Mahavir Temple to feel the freshness and serenity of the spirit.
Sikhs clasp the divinity of spirit by visiting the Patna Sahib, regarded as one of the Five-Takhts, or the holiest of all places to the Sikhs. Dedicated to the tenth master of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh is this embodiment of piousness.
Bihar embraces all religions and cultures, and this can be confirmed by the presence of temples like the Vietnamese Temple, Indosan Nippo Japanese Temple across the state of Bihar.
Fairs and Festivals
Bihar celebrates festivals with great splendour. Festivities like Holi, Durga Puja, Diwali, etc. are celebrated with great glamour. But there are a few culture-specific festivals like the Chhath Puja, dedicated to Surya or the Sun God. Offerings are made to the Sun-God and devotees themselves to water for sacred showering. Teej is another huge celebration where ladies pray to Goddess Parvati for her blessings. Makar Sankranti is celebrated every year in January and Makar Sankranti Mela is held at Rajgir to mark the grandeur. Dedicated to the Sun-God, celebrations like bonfires, kite-flying are also included.
Bihar stands as the breeding ground for one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. The Sonepur Cattle Fair is the largest cattle fair in Asia and attracts visitors from across the Globe. Folk shows, juggling, animal shows are performed to lift the high spirits of the people. The freshness of spirit is an experience that one must embrace in Bihar.