Starting life in a new city feels like taking one’s own skin off and experiencing the pleasures and pains of the new culture. Before coming to India Fellow, I was a conventional traveler. Going to well known places, famous tourist spots, searching the top 10s or top 100s on Google. But with the start of the fellowship, that little bubble of comfort travel burst open quite quickly.
As I came to Bihar to work with Innovators In Health, it didn’t feel like just a place where I will work but a mosaic of customs. It felt like a well-prepared platter of sweets, a confluence of many cultures, religions, and traditions. It has been home to countless dynasties leaving an indelible mark on the region’s heritage that celebrates unity in diversity.
Just like its sweet dishes, its identity was shaped uniquely by its people and flavours. From Patna’s enterprising youth to Bhagalpur’s skilled artisans and rural agrarian communities, Bihar’s society flourishes with diverse talents and industries.
Rising Above Adversity
If Bihar were a dessert, it would undeniably be “Thekua” – a dry sweet crafted with jaggery and wheat flour, demanding high patience and resilience in its creation. The state has faced numerous challenges over the years, from natural disasters to socio-economic issues. However, like “Thekua,” the people here have demonstrated unwavering strength and determination to overcome adversities.
The state has witnessed significant progress in recent years, with improvements in infrastructure, education, and healthcare. For example, the Bihar Student Credit Card Scheme empowers youth for education and skill development leading to their brighter future.
Natural phenomena like heavy rains and floods affect the resident population beyond repair. Such is life in the block of Singhia that is affected by seasonal rains. However, every member of the community comes together to protect and preserve every aspect of their being.
Culinary Delights Or A Reflection Of Life
Bihar’s gastronomic delights are an embodiment of its unique spirit and tradition. The famous “Litti-Chokha“, for instance, exemplifies the essence of its rural lifestyle. Litti is a mix of roasted wheat flour and sattu (gram flour), representing the simplicity of life in the countryside. The Chokha complements it with a mix of smoked vegetables, symbolising the harmony in the communities here. It’s a rare find, much like a masjid and mandir in the same compound. But Bihar trumps the belief and continues to practice this for ages.
Similarly, the mouth-watering “Khaja” from Silao exemplifies the coexistence of history and modernity. Crafted with thin pastry layers and sugar syrup, this sweet dish mirrors Bihar’s delicate harmony between tradition and progress.
The Sweetness Of Unity
In Bihar, no celebration is whole without sweets, showcasing the state’s spirit flawlessly. Chhath Puja, the paramount festival here unites people in a collective expression of gratitude towards nature. Families across their social class share the sweetness of “Anarsa” during this festival, and spread love and warmth throughout every aspect of their lives. It makes you feel the warmth of people either served on a plate or with heartfelt conversations or with a simple cup of tea.
The sweet life of Bihar goes beyond the single story. It is a tale of resilience, progress, and unity woven together like the intricate layers of a delectable dessert. The state’s rich culture, diverse traditions, and mouth-watering sweets create a unique blend. Experiencing this at its best requires breaking away from preconceived notions.
My culinary journey through the places here is not just about savouring its diverse cuisine; it is a metaphor for life itself. Just like our insatiable hunger for more delectable dishes, I am hungry for more experiences that Bihar has to offer.
Much like a sumptuous thali brimming with a myriad of experiences waiting to be savoured, life’s journey awaits exploration. Bihar’s rich history, vibrant culture, and warm-hearted people offer soul-nourishing wanderlust. Just as we enjoy diverse flavours in dishes, let’s explore this land’s varied facets.