Bihar has a rich cultural heritage. The predominant themes are from the myths and legends of Hinduism. The Hindu deities, Lord Rama and His consort, Seeta, and Lord Shiva and His consort, Parvati, form the main theme of folk paintings. Bihar, a land of many Buddhist Monasteries is also known as 'The Land of Buddha".
The beautiful stories of the ancient times are depicted in the exquisite handicrafts of Bihar.
One of the art forms of Bihar, the Madhubani School of Painting, has lately received much attention and poularity.The Madhubani painting or Mithila Painting has originated at the time of the Ramayana. Madhubani which means forests of honey, in the heart of the Mithila region, had a rich tradition of wall paintings done by the village women with vegetable dyes on freshly plastered mud wall of huts. An artist encouraged them to try their wall paintings on paper and since then Mithila paintings gained ground. These line paintings in primary colors normally depict village scenes, human and animal forms, gods and goddesses.
Patna Qalam is a very popular School of Painting of Bihar. This offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. With the decline of the Mughals, the Delhi artists migrated to Murshidabad. Some of them came to Patna and practiced their craft following a style that gradually came to be known as the Patna Qalam. The style is famous for its soft colors and the use of hand made paper or mica sheets. Most of these paintings depict the life of the people of Bihar.
Jhijhian Dance is one of the renowned traditional folk dances of Bihar. When there is severe drought, the land is parched, the sky is cloudless and the people are awaiting rains, a band of young village belles perform this dance with deep devotion offering prayers in the form of song and dance to please Lord Indra for rain and better yield. The participants of the dance include a lead singer, harmonium player, a flute player, and a dholak player. Jhijhia dance is ritualistic in nature and a part of the ritual is to appease the rain god Indra.
Jat-Jatin Dance of the Mithila region is performed by the Harijans where one person performs the role of Jat (the husband) and another person performing the role of Jatin (the wife) wearing masks and going through the story of their life. performed in the month of August, Jat-Jatin is a very popular dance in villages of Bihar. Now a days the art form presents many social concerns like droughts, floods etc.; apart from poverty, sorrow, love and arguments between husband and wife.
Bidesia is another form of dance drama that is extremely popular in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar. The creator of these plays is Bhikari Thakur of Bihar, a barber by profession. The overall form of Bidesia has been made so effective through the medium of vibrant dances and evoking music and stories. In olden days, Bidesia was famous as it gave voice to many social concerned topics. Bidesia plays and style of theatre are very popular for their rhythmic language, sweet songs and appealing music.
Kajari is a song of monsoons. The theme of Kajari songs depict the pleasant change due to the arrival of rainy season. The change in the nature and the mental stimulation and relaxation those are linked with humans is well portrayed in these songs. Kajari songs produce a fascinating impression in the body and the village women begin dancing and singing from the very beginning of the Shravan month when the monsoon sets in.
The region of Mithilanchal is famous for the songs of Vidyapati (famous poet of early medieval age) those can be heard even now in the evenings from several homes in the region. Bhojpuri folksongs are popular in Bihar and second to none when it comes to beats and rhythm.
Villages around Bodhgaya create fascinating handicrafts. Fantastic bamboo articles, leather works, statues made up of white metal, wooden toys and baskets made from cane and bamboo are available in plenty.
Began in the pre historic age, the bamboo and cane crafts of Bihar comprise utility items like baskets, household wares, woven mats, cane furniture and other decorative objects. The majority of artisans are the tribal people of Bihar
Bhagalpur is famous for its silk industry and is considered to be one of the best silk producing centres in India, in manufacturing silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products. This silk is of a distinct and special type. It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.
Other crafts of Bihar include Sujni embroidery, lac bangle making, and creation of decorative and utility items of Seenki (a local dried grass).
Bihar is also famous for the cotton dhurries and curtains produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Bihar-Sharif areas.