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Destricts of Bihar : Madhubani

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Madhubani District is one of the thirty-eight districts of Bihar state, India, and Madhubani town is the administrative headquarters of this district. Madhubani district is a part of Darbhanga Division. The district occupies an area of 3501 km² and has a population of 3,570,651 (as of 2001). This is the centre of Mithila, a region where the main language is Maithili.

History

The district of Madhubani was carved out of the old Darbhanga district in the year 1972 as a result of reorganisation of the districts in the State of Bihar. This was formerly the northern subdivision of Darbhanga district. It consists of 21 Development Blocks. Bounded on the north by a hill region of Nepal and extending to the border of its parent district Darbhanga in the south, Sitamarhi in the west and Supaul in the east, Madhubani fairly represents the centre of the territory once known as Mithila and the district has maintained a distinct individuality of its own.

       Practically there are no prehistoric sites in the district though remains of the earliest aboriginal population can be seen in some parts of the district. Hunter in his "Statistical Accounts" has referred to the existence of the people, known as the Tharus in the erstwhile old subdivision of Madhubani. The Bhars are also believed to have belonged to some aboriginal race though nothing positive about them is known from any reliable source. The Bihar settlements in the north-eastern part of the district indicate that they possibly wielded some power in the remote part. From the work of Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji entitled 'Kiratajanakirti' it appears that Kiratas also inhabited the district for a considerable period. The Mahabharata also throws light on the Kirata culture. Prior to the Aryanisation of this land the area seems to have been under the aboriginal population and Shiva worship was predominant. The association of the family of Janaka with the worship of lord Shiva is an indication of the fact that though they formed the vanguard of Aryan culture they had to compromise with the local religious belief, dominated by the Shaivas. The kingdom of Videha included a greater portion of the district. In course of time it was ruled by a successive line of kings known as Janakas.

       If tradition is to be relied upon, the Pandavas during their exile stayed in some portion of the present district and Pandaul (block headquarters) is associated with them. Janakpur, capital of Videha is situated at a short distance to the north-west of the district in the Nepalese territory and tradition points to the village of Phulhar in the north- east corner of the Benipatti thana as the flower- garden where the kings' priests used to gather flowers for worship and identifies its temple with that of Devi Girija, which was worshipped by Sita before her marriage with Ram. Legends and traditions associate this district with a number of sages and master- minds of ancient times. Village Kakraul is associated with Kapil, Ahiari with Ahilya wife of Gautama, Bisaul with Vishwamitra and Jagban with Yajnavalkya (ascribed to the great sage of Mithila).

       Bimbisar, the founder of the Magadhan imperial power aspired for imperial power and the ambition ran in the veins of his son, Ajat Shatru as well. Ajat Shatru subdued the Lichchhavis and conquered the whole of North Bihar. He brought Mithila under the control of the Magadhan empire. The history of the Lichchhavis comes down unbroken to the days of the imperial Guptas. The Lichchhavis founded a kingdom in Nepal and even the earliest royal house of Tibet owed its origin to the Lichchhavis of Vaishali. The migration of Lichchhavis to Nepal and Tibet marks a great event in the history of North Bihar and the district of Madhubani being at the core of the region must have played a dominant part in this great trek as the route to Nepal lay through this district.

       Madhubani must have shared in the religious and cultural ferment which so deeply stirred the hearts of the people of the Gangetic Valley in the 6th century B.C. Since the whole of North Bihar was deeply influenced by the teachings of two great reformers (Mahavira and Buddha) it is only natural to infer that the people of Madhubani actively participated in the propagation of these reform movements. According to one theory Mahavira himself was a Vaideha domiciled in the suburb of Vaishali and was the son of a daughter of Mithila. Buddha also visited Mithila thrice and he had a great love for Vaishali. It may be further noted here that Buddha's most devoted disciple, Anand was a Vaidehamuni, a monk of the land of Videhas. Both the Jain and the Buddhist literature contain innumerable references to the district of Madhubani and its neighboring territories. Very little is known about the history of Madhubani from the time of the Kusanas to the rise of the Guptas.

       After a temporary period of instability, Madhubani came under the control of the Oinwaras, also known as the Kameshwara Thakura or the Sugauna dynasty. These Hindu chiefs were left undisturbed by the whole of Mithila. When Hajiriyas of Bengal divided Tirhut into two parts, the Oinwar Raja shifted his capital to Sugauna near Madhubani. The district thereafter remained a part of the Mughal Subah. There was no event of great significance during the next century and a half.

       The decisive victory of the British in the battle of Buxar in 1764 gave them undisputed sway over the Lower Provinces of Bengal. As a consequence, Madhubani, along with other parts of Bihar, passed under the control of British. The British administrators took steps to establish law and order. Besides the trouble- mongers in Mithila, they had also to deal with the incursions of the Nepalese. The trouble with Nepal culminated in the Indo-Nepalese war. After concluding peace with Nepal, the British administrators had a comparatively quiet time till the 1857 movement.

       In 1857, patriotic fervour raged-high in Madhubani district as in many other districts of Bihar. Later the call of the non-co-operation movement also found adequate response in the district of Madhubani and many people volunteered to serve the cause championed by Mahatma Gandhi. Khadi spinning and weaving was adopted as a must for congress workers. A Khadi centre was opened at Madhubani. It gradually expanded its activities. Khadi became very popular and Madhubani soon emerged as a renowned centre of Khadi production. The popularity of Khadi weaving and spinning in the district went a long way in inspiring the people towards the nationalist cause. Madhubani district played an important role in the country's freedom struggle.

Geography

Madhubani district occupies an area of 3,501 square kilometres (1,352 sq mi), comparatively equivalent to the Bahamas' North Andros Island. It is located at a Longitude of 25º-59'  to 26º-39' East and the Latitude is 85º-43'  to 86º-42' North

Rivers:Kamala, Bhutahi Balaan, Bachharaja, Balaan, Tirsulla, Jeevachh.Kosi,Dhous, Ghaghr

Natural divisions

       The district consists of a vast low lying plain intersected by numerous streams and marshes, but traversed also in parts by upland ridges. The land is generally high, specially in blocks of Benipatti, Madhubani, Jainagar, Ladania, Laukaha and in the south of Phulparas, which contain stretches of highland. The soil of the district is highly calcarious. It is a mixture of clay and sand in varying proportions. In the major part of the district, clay or matiari is mostly found. This contains negligible proportion of sand and since it can retain moisture, it is suited to paddy cultivation.

       In shape, the district resembles a parallelogram, its mean breadth from west to east being a little greater than its mean length from north to south. It consists of a rich alluvial plain intersected by numerous rivers and streams issuing from the Nepal hills and running almost parallel to each other from north to south. The important rivers of the district are the little Baghmati, Kamla, Kareh, Balan and Tiljuga. The little Baghmati enters the district at Bishanpur Agropatti about 16 Kms. west of Benipatti, and after being joined by its tributary the Dhaus near Bankatta, in the same block takes a south- easterly course. The Kamla river flows south-ward from the hills and falls into the little Baghmati. This river frequently changes its course and its beds are found all over the north of the district. To the east of this river are little Balan and the Balan proper and the Tiljuga which skirts around the eastern boundary of the district.

Climatic conditions

       The climate of this district is generally healthy. There are three well marked seasons, viz, a pleasant cold season, a hot, dry summer and the rainy season. The cold weather begins in November and continues up to February, though March is also some- what cool. Westerly winds and dust storms begin to blow and the temperature goes up to about 42oC. Rains set in towards the middle of June when the temperature begins to fall and humidity rises. Though the rains continue till the end of September or the middle of October, these months are not so hot.

Rainfall

       Madhubani district gets more rain than its adjoining district. The rainfall in Madhubani town is nearer the district average. The rains usually start in the middle of June. The maximum rainfall occurs between the second half of July and first half of August. The average annual rainfall in the district varies between 900mm and 1300 mm. in a year. The district also gets some winter rain.

Land Use Pattern

       The land in the district is mainly low and produces one crop in a year, and so the necessity for high cultivation does not arise. In a year of good rainfall no one would think of leaving rice lands fallow, and indeed, rice lands positively deteriorate when left uncultivated, as they become baked and hardened, the ‘ails’ or partitions between the fields become broken, and the drains by which the land would be usually irrigated get filled up or obliterated.

       So far as agricultural production is concerned, the district is mainly a paddy and sugar-cane growing area. The staple food consists of rice, dal and vegetables. Murhi (fried rice), gur, chura and curd constitute their favourite refreshment.

       Madhubani, like other districts of North Bihar, is dependent for its crops on the local rainfall. The failure or premature cessation of rainfall is a disaster for the winter crops (especially rice) which is the main crop of the district. A considerable part of the district is flood–prone. The standing crops are also affected by heavy rains as well as water flowing out of Nepal territory.

       Artificial irrigation is also practiced in the district though its full potential has not been realized. There the numerous streams and rivers which intersect the district are utilized for the supply of water to the winter rice crop especially in Khajauli and Phulparas blocks. In Benipatti block nearly one third of the net cropped area is irrigated from a complete systems of ‘pynes’ or artificial channels led off from the Kamla river. Besides these sources, tanks are used all over the district for the irrigation of the fields in their neighbourhood, either to expedite the transplantation of the winter rice seedling or to prevent them from withering during a break in the rains. Tube-wells and artesian wells are also being utilized for the purpose of artificial irrigation.

       Spinning and weaving are very old and highly developed handicrafts in the district. The Khadi Gramodyog Centre located at Madhubani is famous for weaving. There are still Maithili ladies who spin fine yarn and can weave beautiful textiles. It is said that some of them can spin the length of yarn needed for the sacred thread (janau) and put it in the capsule of a cardamom. This speaks of the high quality of the handloom textile of the district. The famous Madhubani Painting or the Mithilia Painting as it is known is also the handiwork of the people especially the women of Madhubani.

Livestock

       The District Gazetteer of Darbhanga (1962) mentions, that rearing of cattle is an important subsidiary occupation of the district. The district is well stocked with cattle, and the Khajauli and Phulparas blocks contain a large number of milch cattle, draught cattle and agricultural stock of all kinds. A number of veterinary hospitals and dispensaries have been opened at different centres in the district which has reduced the mortality of cattle.

Communications

       The district has a well-knit communications system. It is served by the North Eastern Railway. A bus Depot of the Bihar State Road Transport Corporation is also functioning at the district headquarter. Before that private buses used to ply in major parts of the district. The district is covered by broad gauge railway between Darbhanga and Jainagar, Darbhanga to Nirmali and Darbhanga to Laukaha. A landing ground for aircraft has also been constructed.

Trade and Commerce

       As regards trade and commerce, this district exports fish, handloom cloth, makhana (Water berries), mangoes, sugar-cane , litchi, paddy, and brass metal articles to various cities insides and outside the state. It imports medicine, machine, fine clothes , shoes, and cosmetic materials from other places. A number of rice mills and timber saw mills have been set up in the district . Madhubani has been an important centre for trade with Nepal since the latter part of the 19th Century. The principal items of export from Madhubani to Nepal are cotton, sugar, silk, betel nut and tobacco.

Economy

In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Madhubani one of the country's 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640). It is one of the 36 districts in Bihar currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).

Demographics

According to the 2011 census Madhubani district has a population of 4,476,044, roughly equal to the nation of Croatia or the US state of Louisiana. This gives it a ranking of 37th in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 1,279 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,310 /sq mi) .[5] Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 25.19%. Madhubani has a sex ratio of 925 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 60.9%.

Sub-Divisions

Madhubani district comprises the following Sub-Divisions:

•           Madhubani,

•           Jaynagar,

•           Benipatti,

•           Jhanjharpur,

•           Phulparas

Blocks include Jainagar, Khajauli, Pandaul, Rahika, Bisfi, Benipatti, Basopatti, Babubarhi, Rajnagar, Madhepur, Khutauna, Jhanjharpur, Ghoghardiha, Ladania, Madhwapur, Harlakhi, Laukahi, Andharatharhi, Lakhnaur, Phulparas, Kaluahi, Mansapur, Karmauli, Sisbar, Sijolia, Garatol, Barhampur

Culture

The "Madhubani" style of paintings derives its name from this region as the style originated there, in the early 17th century. These paintings are made using vegetable dyes, lamp black, and the canvas is usually cloth or paper. These days, several of the well-known "Madhubani" paintings are used as motifs on bags, kurtas (an Indian garment for covering the upper half of the body), and other materials produced using the hand-block painting technique. With ethnic-chic being in vogue, such products are all the rage, these days, not just with the Indians, but also in the export market.

Bhoura Garh, Madhubani was once capital of Mithila.

Madhubani is also famous for Makhana and sweet water fish the smaller varieties are also relished much. Madhubani lokgeet are based on Hindustani Classical raags. There is not much of music being made in Maithili language, the main language of the district. The wedding songs sung by Shardha sinha continues to be played at almost all the weddings.

The people of this district are very religious and follow the rituals with faith, pomp and show.[original research?] Durgapuja, Mahashivratri, Holi, Ramnavami, Krishnashtmi, Dipawali and Chhath are festivals enjoyed by people with involvement from all. In a few village like Mouahi of Babubarhi block, idols of Lord Krishna, Nand baba and other God and goddess are made with soil and bamboo stick and a fair is organized on the eve of Krishnashtmi. Almost all Hindu villages of this district have a Shivalaya where people go for Jalbhishek every morning.

The people of this district are generally peace loving and are not risk takers; that is the reason, the migrants from this region generally are educated with very few people in the business/trading.[original research?] The stereotype of Bihar people being uncultured rough and tough etc. is actually not applicable to people of this district.[original research?]

Muslims of this district also practice their festivals of Id & Muharram with great pomp and show. Hindu of their village and surrounding also share their festivals with joy.

One more thing is Saurath Sabha in which almost every year, during suddha or auspicious days for the settling of marriages, thousands of Maithil Brahmans gather at Sabha Gaachchi in Saurath. The Panjikaras (the person maintaining "Panji" or genealogical record) plays a very important role in fixing of marriage since it is obligatory for every person desirous of marriage to get a certificate called asvajajanapatra (non-relationship) from a panjikara, stating that there is no “blood relationship”, as per the prescribed rules of prohibited degrees of relationship, between the bride and groom. There is a fixed sitting place – dera – for every village in the sabha. The timing and number of days etc. are decided in a general meeting of the scholars and pandits of Mithila in accordance with the traditional astrological almanac – Pachanga.

Places of Religious, Historical, Archaeological and Tourist Interest

Madhubani has a number of places having tourist interest from religious, historical and archaeological point of view. Some of the prominent places are Andhratharhi, Balirajpur, Mangrauni, Ucchaith, Bhawanipur, Saurath, Satghara, Bisfi etc. Brief Description of Places of Religious, Historical and Archeological Importance in villages and places and tourist interest in the town of the district:

Saurath:

 This is a road side village on Madhubani-Jaynagar road and contains a temple known as Somnath Mahadev. It owes its importance to the annual Sabha held by Maithili Brahmins for negotiating marriages. Many Panjikars who keep the genealogical records of the different families reside here and outside.

Kapileswarsthan:

A village situated nine kilometers from Madhubani District Head Quarter. The village is noted for its Shiva Temple, also known as Kapileswarsthan. Numerous devotees congregate at the temple every Monday and particularly in the month of Shravan. A large fair is also held on the occasion of Maha Shiva Ratri.

Uchaitha:

The village in Benipatti block is noted for its temple of Bhagwati on the western bank of river Thumne. According to a legend, the renowned Sanskrit poet and dramatist Kalidas was blessed by Bhagwati at this place.

Bhawanipur:

It is a large village situated 5kms from the block headquarter of Pandaul, the village is noted for its temple of Ugaranath and traditional association with famous poet, Vidyapati. As the legend says, Vidyapati was such a great devotee of Lord Shiva that the latter began to serve Vidyapati as his servant named Ugana.