GLORIOUS CULTURE OF MITHILA

(An image of Nepalese cultural mosaic)

Er. Satya Narayan Shahi
B.Sc. Mechanical Engineering (India) MS (Manufacturing Engineering & Management (UK) Email: er.snshah@gmail.com; snshah@wlink.com.np August 2010

Pluralism is the essence of NEPALEASE CULTURE. Though it’s multilingual and multi ethnic character is well delineated in the famous exhortation of king Prithavi Narayan Shah, founder of the present-day Nepal, in which the country has been described as a garden of various social groups. Unfortunately, it was never practiced. Only one culture was promoted in the past through a well spelled slogan during Panchyat regime that is “One language one uniform”. Consequently, other cultures never been recognised by the state mechanism. This sort of behaviour watered the cultivation of a great hatred among other ethnic groups of Nepal. Maithil also fall in this deprived group where MAITHILI CULTURE is an important and integral component of Nepalese Cultural Mosaic. Elongated in shape Maithili speaking part of the country is stretched from Morang to Rautahat districts and covers seven districts :Morang, Sunsary, Saptary, Siraha, Dhanusha , Mahottary , Sarlahi and Rautahat of Eastern and Mid-Development Region of the country. Though traditionally it was defined as situated between the rivers of Koshi and Gandaki, recent change in the composition of the country’s population has affected this modification. Watered by Koshi, Gandaki, Kamala, Balan, Jaladhi, Rato, Bighi, Dudhamati, Jibachh and their tributaries, soil of this lush green region is extremely fertile which has earned for it the distinction of being granary of the country. Maithili, the mother language of an average of approx 13% of the population of Nepal, has a literary history of at least thirteen hundred years behind it. It is varied in form and rich in contents. Nepal’s contribution to the growth of Maithili literature is immense. Under the Royal patronage of particularly Malla Kings, Maithili dramas and religious songs

addressed to deities and composed for special occasions received an unprecedented boost. The first prose work of Maithili, Varna Ratnakar was written in Nepal in the fourteenth century. The Dak-Vachanabali, a compendium of wise and crisp sayings of the eleventh century meant for rural population is proud achievement and still cited and drawn upon in social discourse in Maithili region. Vidyapati the Maithili poet-laureate spent twelve years at the court of Banauli in Nepal with his royal patron and composed literary works of great importance. Several of the ancient Maithili manuscripts are still lying in our National Archive in Kathamandu. Maithili has its own script. Though it has fallen in disuse, its cultural value cannot be denied. This script is very much similar to Bengali script. These days Devanagari Script is used as it is easy because the same script is used for Nepali and Hindi Languages. Maithili region known by various scriptural names is proud of its cultural heritage. It contains numerous religious shrines, sites of archaeological importance, and ancient seats of learning and legendary places, which have very popular appeal. Ruins of ancient seats of power, cultural centres, temples, forts, and shrines associated with myths in the area are found wide spread here. Famous cities of scriptural and historical eminence JANAKPURDHAM, RAJBIRAJ, BIRATNAGAR, BALAIN, SIDHESHAWER, RATABARA, KAPILESHAR, JALESHWAR, DHANUSHA, DHRUBKUND, and lots of such other places, unmistakable index of its hairy cultural pasts, are awaiting the touch of affectionate and liberal hands for their excavation, innovation and infusion of new life. Each of these places has a story, legend, history associated with it. Some are known for their historical past others are famous for Tantric performances and miraculous events in the past. The region abounds in holy rivers, ponds, temples, shrines and spots of popular reverence. Many of the places of folk deities, and folk heroes sung about in folk songs and ballads of Maithili literature lie in this part of this country.

The history of Maithili region is rich long and goes back to at least five thousand years. Its culture is distinguished by its rich language literature enviable scholarship, well-structured social organization peculiar folk beliefs mysticism, yoga meditation, magnificent magic and strong tantric tradition. Its cuisine food, which is varied and traditionally numbered as fifty-six kinds, dress, agricultural tools, domestic earthen, wooden, and metal utensils, silver, gold and bead ornaments, pottery designs, wall-paintings, earthen images of deities, folk heroes, elephants, horses, birds its peculiar other articles of handicraft all combine to lend an exotic and distinguished character to Maithili culture. The artistic creativity of this culture is well reflected not only in the designs of its traditional dresses -both for men and women of deferent age groups, occasions and purposes. Religiously Maithils are mainly Hindu, reposing their faith in SHIVA, VISHNU and DURGA or SHAKTI .This division of sects is arbitrary, because a Hindu worships all these gods and many more ditties. The denominations are, however, helpful to study

philosophy, and metaphysical speculations and complex scholarly discourse of Maithils on super mental consciousness. Maithils also have cordial relationship with other religions like Muslims and others. In some of the Muslim festivals Maithils also take part with the same spirit and devotion as they take in the same way Muslims also reciprocate. The Maithil region of the country abounds in fairs, festivals, rites and rituals. Ram Navami, Janaki Navami, Fagu, Deewali, Chhaith, Chaurchand, Krishna-Asthami, Jurasital, Dasain,

Jitia, Rabi-Sani, Shivratry , Satuain, Sama-Chakeba, and numerous others can be added to their list. Naturally, these occasions are important social occasions of regions reverence, joy and gaiety. All these add to the cultural distinction of the region. Mathili culture is unique for its songs for dawn as well as evening. Women family members in performing various rites to sanctify and celebrate, for instance a wedding, they sing hundreds of songs. In fact there are songs for every single rite associated with birth, childhood, youth, wedding, meeting, separation etc. Observers comment that no culture can match the Maithili Culture in its abundance of songs. So is the case with ballads sung in glorification of the successful life of heroes, important personality of the community. Their bravery, great deeds, act of benevolence, simple but adventurous love esoteric power of magic, sacrifices, devotion, services to the society, pangs of defeat and separation, joys of victory and fulfilment have gone into the popular ballads. However, the great culture seems to have lost much of its vigour. There are signs of indifference and consequent loss of its cultural vitality. Its arts and handicraft, its painting and literature, and in fact its entire cultural achievements have suffered colossal neglect. A cultural loss is a national loss in fact, a loss of the entire mankind. This necessitates an effort to protect it from extinction by drawing attention of the people towards MITHILA CULTURE. After restoration of Democracy in Nepal, Maithils have become more sensitive and keen towards attracting people of the world to know about the magnificent culture. For this, various activities and programs are being executed time to time.
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Er. Shah is founder president of Mithila Cultural Centre, Janakpurdham. He has been actively participating in cultural activities. He is  also associated with many other social and professional organizations.