बिषहरी पूजा (Bishahri Puja / Bihula)

Every August, Bhagalpur and its adjoining areas start gearing up for Bishahri Puja, a ritual observed only in eastern parts of Bihar with the sole exceptions being certain parts of West Bengal and Assam. The ceremony not only has an interesting myth attached to it, but also nurses the magnificent manjusha art within its fold which is considered on par with other folk arts of Bihar like Madhubani paintings of Mithilanchal and Jadopetiya of the Santhal Parganas. Pandaals are decorated for the purpose and women sing folk songs in the local dialect highlighting the story and importance of Bishahari puja a month before. The Bishahari puja commences on "Singh Nashatra" in the month of "Bhadra" which according to the Hindi calender falls on 16th or 17th of August every year. The main aim of this puja is to please the Goddess Bishahari so as to prevent people from the wrath of snakes. Requisite accoutrements for observing the puja include temple shaped boxes called Manjushas in which…
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