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Bihari

Bihari

ETHNONYMS: none


The name "Bihari" subsumes several hundreds of Hindu castes, inhabiting the state of Bihar in northeastern India. They number about 85 million (1991) and speak Bihari, which is an eastern dialect of Hindi. About one in every six Biharis is a follower of Islam. Located in the middle of the Gangetic Plain and receiving good rainfall most years, Bihar's economy is based almost wholly on agriculture. In ancient times, this area was the birthplace of both Buddhism and Jainism. In recent years, the state's history has been marked by radical politics and violence. This unrest may be a result of Bihar's status as the most backward state of India, which is attributable to scant industrialization combined with the low average literacy rate of 38.5 percent in 1991 (the rate is appreciably lower for females).


Bibliography

Grierson, George Abraham (1885). Bihar Peasant Life, being a discursive catalogue of the surroundings of the people of that province, with many illustrations from photographs taken by the author. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat. Reprint. 1975. Delhi: Cosmo Publications.

PAUL HOCKINGS

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