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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मञ्जूषा कला (Manjusha Art)


Manjushas are temple-shaped boxes, made of bamboo, jute straw and paper. According to legend, Manjusha art traces its origin to the Bihula-Vishahri or Mansha folktale, popular in erstwhile Anga Pradesh and found also in an altered form in West Bengal. The paintings are drawn primarily on the occasion of the Bishari puja, celebrated usually in August to propitiate the snake gods. As Bihula's boat was decorated by a character called Lahsan Mali, this art has been confined to the Mali or gardener caste. Like Madhubani, Manjusha too is pictorial reflections of folklore, poetry and the larger cultural consciousness of the region.

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