Ours is a big country. And we have got a lot of people here. 17.5% of all humans on the planet live here. It’s no joke. There are dozens of languages, hundreds of dialects and countless sane-insane customs woven around some common string of cultural values, religious beliefs and history. Differences are bound to be there. But, some generalizations are so much in bad taste that they need to be dissected well and at regular intervals.
Image source: ezccindia.org
The fact is that Biharis are among the most misunderstood people in India.
This post is a humble attempt to cut apart some lame generalizations about the people who come from Bihar, once the most prosperous and culturally-philosophically-spiritually rich area in the Indian sub-continent. Ironically, even those who never met a single Bihari assume them to be law breakers, narrow-minded, and ill-mannered people. They are decreed to be the Jacks-of-all-ills prevailing in North India, the ripples of which they wrongly believe and tirelessly retell others on social media are spreading to the entire nation. A moment of silence for all these fellow-Indians who could not see beyond the misinformed and plain-wrong generalizations! A genuine Bihari is hard working and diligent. He or she is eager to improve the quality of his or her life. They move out in search of opportunities; they do so when their state fails to provide them any or when they just want to go elsewhere. Everyone does that. Highly deep rooted to their land, they carry their simplicity wherever they go. Here’s what many Indians have understood totally wrong about Biharis:
1. “Biharis Are Not Good Orators”; No, They Are, and Far Better Than Bickering Wimps Who Settle Arguments at Gun Point
Even the most regular people in Bihar will always have their pants pulled up for a debate, and this does not mean they will prove their arguments at gun point. They are exquisitely expressive and carry more knowledge of the world than you can think of. They are practical and speak logic when they open their mouths.
Sometimes, their arguments are quizzical and over-the-top intelligent so much so they may leave you open mouthed, but too has many plus points to it. Say, you want to marry a Bihari, in this case you don’t have to worry when it comes to convincing your parents; the task will be tackled smoothly, without being loud and without a knock down.
2. “Biharis just cannot move beyond their accent”; it’s called Linguistic Wealth, people.
And “Bihari” For that Matter is No Language At All. The Biharis speak six different languages which include Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Bajjika, Santhali and Angika. Two of these languages have already been recognized as national languages – Bhojpori and Santhali.
Punjabis carry their culture and accent and values everywhere they go. Marathis, Gujjus and others do the same. Why shouldn’t a Bihari do it, people?
3. “They always loop Bhojpuri Songs”; No, they like Bhojpuri songs but they listen to other music too.
Ok, Bhojpuri songs may be the most fun thing a Bihari can laugh about with friends. BUT, at the same time, because Biharis are highly cultured people, they hold rich taste in music. They have keen interest in Urdu shayri and also like lyrical songs. Bihari listen to sad songs, happy songs, instrumentals, bhangra, classical and everything else. Just like everyone else. And they are great romantics too.
A Bihari can enjoy as much of Bollywood and Hollywood as any other Indian. Youngsters in Bihar also like rock and metal and fancy all genres of music. Just as Punjabis’ taste in music can range from Chamkeela and Honey Singh to Harbhajan Mann and Tamilians’ taste in music can range from Classical to Bollywood and rock, Biharis too have diverse preferences. So, let’s not judge Biharis, okay?
4. “Biharis don’t have any manners”; well, they still Bow on Their Feet Instead Of Saying Namaste
Many in Maharashtra and other parts of the country may have proclaimed that Biharis and other people from north India are a ‘drama’ and ‘show of arrogance,’ but the truth is that Biharis still top the list of most cultured people in India.
In times, when most youngsters are not willing to bow their heads or touch the feet of elders in greeting, a Bihari will never shy away from showing his reverence and respect for elders, be it in their homes or out in the public. If you have got a Bihari in your friend-circle, you’d know!
5. “Biharis are unfashionable”; they just like Dressing up Traditionally
They say Biharis don’t have a sense of fashion. But what exactly defines peoples’ sense of fashion? The ridiculous standards of what-looks-good or what’s-cool-nowadays can make even the most elegantly dressed boy or girl be tagged as second-rate.
Most Biharis like to dress simple and are more comfortable with traditional attire, which is why we see them Dhoti clad with a simple kurta. Women are mostly seen in sarees and some of them wear exceptionally rick silks. What we may not find them honing, is weird hairstyles; they will never agree to wear an EMO look. They shy away from wearing red pants or golden t-shirts, but that’s perfectly their individual choice, and has nothing to do with fashion.
6. “Biharis steal all white collar jobs”; well, they just toil harder than those who complain about it
No one really knows if they are jealous of Biharis, or despise them for their achievements. Bihari folks are the most hardworking community in the country. They are good students and indeed secure a good number of seats in most top ranking institutes of the country.
When it comes to jobs also, most white collar jobs go to Biharis, they are IAS toppers, get through to IITs and IIMs, and all of this is possible because they patiently toil through years, sometimes even by dropping out. They get placed in the best MNC’s and government corporations, and in every respect, they deserve to hold the positions where the country sees them. We cannot despise them of debauchery as an excuse of our own laziness. We are all for the principle of merit-comes-first, right?
7. “Biharis are law breakers”; they are no bigger law breakers as everyone else in India
Anyone who gets a chance at breaking laws in India grabs it at the first go, why be partial to Biharis? They cannot be brandished as law breakers in a scenario when all communities of India do the same.
So many of us skip red lights in the absence of vigilance cameras or traffic police! We wouldn’t wear seat belts if we were not fined. We bribe when there is a chance to get away with our vices, so why blame Bihar or Biharis? Leaving aside the opinion of anti-Bihari people in some Indian states, ask anyone in Karnataka and Beguluru, and they will always praise the Biharis as the most hard working and intelligent community, and highly adaptable to new environments, they would never break laws.
8. “Biharis are perpetrators of violence”; on the contrary, they are more oppressed by violence
The debate about who’s the oppressor and who’s the oppressed can go on forever. But, history brings to light that Biharis have been subjected to racism since Independence. Today, their plight is even more difficult with some not-so-informed fellow countrymen in many states rebuking their presence. It is easy to hurt a Bihari in Mumbai and taint their social presence to the extent that some people living in the national Capital consider ‘Bihari’ to be a ‘Gaali.’ Pathetic.
Many of them residing in the cities are ashamed of owing up their roots for the fear of being dejected by peers. And these very people forget about all they got from the supposed oppressors. They forget that Ashoka-Chakra on the National Flag, comes from the great Warrior King from Bihar, Ashoka. They forget that Bihar was home to prestigious institutes such as the Nalanda University. Even if you do not know the history, you shouldn’t AT LEAST forget that Bihar is a state in the Indian Union and that Biharis are regular people like other Indians. Biharis have a right to be themselves. They have a right to be different, just as everyone else. This is what makes ours a beautiful country! We need all the colors.