A state with ancient history and culture, Bihar celebrates many festivals throughout the year with piety and fervour. The state also celebrates many fairs which attract visitors who come from far off places to participate and savour the culture of Bihar.
Sonepur in Bihar is famous for its cattle fair with traders coming from far flung areas to trade cattle. The Fair stretches from a fortnight to a month on some occasions. It coincides with Karthik Poornima the full moon night of the month of Karthik in the month of November. The origin for the fair can be traced back to history when Emperor Chandragupta Maurya would buy elephants and horses across the River Ganges. Originally the fair used to be held in Hajipur and festivities would begin after puja was offered at the Harihar Nath Temple at Sonepur. It was Aurugzeb who shifted the venue of the fair to Sonepur. The place is rich with history as Lord Rama is believed to have built the Harihar Nath temple as he proceeded to the Court of Mithila to win the hand of Sita. However the present day temple was built during the Mughal period. Another popular legend associated with the place narrates that the famous Gajendra Moksha mentioned in the Bhagawat Puran took place in Sonepur. The Fair is perhaps the only place where elephants are also lined up for sale along with cattle, dogs, donkeys, horses and sometimes even camels. It is considered the largest fair with sellers and buyers gathering from all over the country for transaction.
Gaya in Bihar is the holiest of places as Hindus visit the place especially during the Pitrupaksha in September- October to offer panda daan to their ancestors. It was here that Gayasura prayed for a boon that the place where he was felled should become a holy place and that wish was granted by Gods.
This fair attracts people from all over the country where people pay respects to their ancestors through food offerings (Pinda Daan).
It is celebrated in winter when the birds begin their migration from the Himalayas down towards the plains. According to legends, Sama the daughter of Krishna was wrongly cursed to become a bird. Her brother Chakeva observed self penance and brought her back to human form. Thus this represents the sister-brother bond like the Rakhi festival. Clay idols of birds are made representing the sister-brother duo and are decorated traditionally. With various rituals they are then submerged in the pond with a wish that they return to the land next year.
Celebrated in the month of Shraavan in Mithilanchal, this festival is observed by married ladies and lasts for thirteen consecutive days. Women worship Nag Devtas or snake gods and stories and legends related to this festival are narrated and feasts are prepared on the culmination of the festival which falls on madhushraavani tritiya.