East India is a wonderful amalgamation of various dance forms, music, cuisines, ethnicity, culture, tradition, architecture and other creative facets of the country. Spanning over an extensive 418,323 sq km, the region encompasses the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. With a culturally rich heritage, Eastern India has got it all- the quaint hill stations, green tea plantations, captivating sceneries, ruins of the ancient Nalanda University and the many pilgrimage centres, all for Buddha, Jain and Hindu communities. Wedged between the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the region is enriched with shimmery beaches, beautiful temples, charming monasteries, a well-versed Buddhist circuit and an all around rural old world charm. It takes pride in being the ruling seat for many prominent dynasties besides being home to several matchless monuments, having strong historical roots and having an innate architectural prowess.
In addition to all the hullabaloo that we have already stated, one of the highlights of the region is the city of Kolkata. Also known as the cultural capital of India, the city boasts of 19th century architectural marvels, of narrow winding alleys, finger-licking sumptuous food, and an old world charm. On the contrasting end, Eastern India also has West Bengal with its plethora of dainty hill towns, misty environment and tea gardens. To top the glamour, the region has several wildlife sanctuaries boating of the rich wildlife and the diverse variety of flora, fauna and avifauna. If this is not pleasing the inner traveller in you, Eastern India has also got the architectural masterpieces displayed in Odisha and Jharkhand, the beguiling beauty of Ranchi and the pilgrimage spots of Bodhgaya and Rajbir. All in all, it is safe to say that East India revels in timeless and ageless beauty and has been infused with a flavor that is hard to put into words but which is a treat to the eyes and a delight to witness.
East India- History at a Glance
With a rich historical heritage and inheritance to call its own, Eastern India boasts of being ruled by top-notch prominent dynasties of the world including the Nandas, Mauryas, Kharavelas, Shishungas, Guptas, Palas during the ancient time; and by the Mughals, Marathas and British in the Medieval era. Besides, Bihar takes pride in being the sacred land where Lord Mahaveer- the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jains was born who founded Jainism. Another feather in the hat is the world famous Nalanda University which was a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient times.
Other than that, even after the oncoming of the British rule in India, Eastern India continued to play an important part in the history of the country. The infamous and the very brave India Rebellion Movement of 1857 was started in Bengal. In other Gandhian movements, Champaran in Bihar remained a key point of the Indian Independence struggle. In addition to that, the land borne some world class intellectuals, leaders, poets, artists and philosophers who are revered and respected even till date.
East India- Religion, Languages and Food
The majority of the population of East India comprises of Hindus, with major minority of Muslims, and a little percentage of Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians. Other than a plethora of Hindu temples, the region also has beautiful mosques, Sikh gurdwaras, Christian churches and Jain shrines. It also has several pilgrimage sites of the Hindus in Puri and Bhubaneswar. Bihar has the very famous Bihar Sharif- a muslim shrine. And West Bengal predominantly is a Kali worshippers with most of population being a revere believers of the deity. The first language of the state is also Bengali with Hindi and English being the second favourites. Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Maithili, Magahi being the predominant languages of Bihar and Jharkhand. Odia is the dominant language of Odisha.
When it comes to food, all of Eastern India has got a culinary rich taste. However, Bengal surpasses the other by its ample varieties of sumptuous seafood delicacies especially fish. With its umpteen combinations of fish, lentils and vegetables served in both bland and fiery hot flavors, Bengali cuisine is considered one of the best cuisines of the world. Odisha also has taste buds appetising dishes. With the main ingredients of fish, mutton and chicken, only 6% of Odia people are known to be vegetarians. Mustard oil and rice are a basic staple in their diets. Whereas on the other hand, Bihar and Jharkhand have a balanced veg, non-veg food habits. Litti Chokha is a local delicacy of Bihar.
East India- Dance, Music and Culture
With a varied and rich culture, Eastern India has its talents and art forms deep rooted in the history and traditions of the region. A whole individual music form is popular in the country, hailing from West Bengal, known as the Rabindra Sangeet- songs and music composed by the eminent writer, poet and singer- Rabindranath Tagore. Kolkata is known as the cultural capital of the country for the same reason- for being the hometown of the ace personality, of housing several architectural monuments and being home to umpteen dance, arts and other cultural activities. Odissi music is another popular form of music coming from Odisha which branches from Hindustani and Carnatic music. Besides it boasts of beautiful folk music and tribal music genres. On the other hand, the nation famous Bhojpuri music and cinema is an introduction in itself.
The region is also known for its diverse dance forms. Odisha is famous for the Odissi classical dance form which is known to have existed from 2000 years ago and has mentions in Natyashastra of Bharatamuni written in 200 BCE. Another prominent dance forms are Chau, Ghumura, Sambalpuri, Mahara etc. Bengal is famous for its folk dances and those of the tribal groups. Some popular ones are manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, dhobhi nach, jhumarnach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach etc.