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East India

The approximate extent of the Magadha state in the 5th century B.C.
The approximate extent of the Magadha state in the 5th century B.C.
Ka inga]]n Empire: 2nd century BCE

East India (Bengali: purbo bharot ) is a region of India consisting of the states of West Bengal, Bihar,[1][2] Jharkhand, and Orissa. The states of Orissa and West Bengal share some cultural and linguistic characteristics with Bangladesh and with the state of Assam. Together with Bangladesh, West Bengal formed the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal before partition in 1947. The historic region of Bengal which was ruled by Nawabs of Bengal comprises the present Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bangladesh from where the British started their conquest of India. Bengali language is the most spoken language in this region.

Kolkata, known as the cultural capital of India, is the largest metropolitan city of this region.

The bulk of the region lies on the east coast of India by the Bay of Bengal, and on the Indo-Gangetic plain. Jharkhand, on the Chhota Nagpur plateau, is a hilly and a heavily forested state rich in mineral wealth. The region is bounded by the Nepal and Sikkim Himalayas in the north, the states of Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh on the west, the state of Andhra Pradesh in the south and the Bay of Bengal on the east.



The region was the historical centre of the Nanda, Maurya, Kharavela, Sunga, Kalinga, Gupta and Pala empires that ruled much of the Indian sub-continent at their prime. In medieval India, it was incorporated into the Mughal and then the British empire. After independence in 1947, the states joined the Indian Union and took their current form after the States Reorganization Act of 1956. Today, they continue to face problems of overpopulation, environmental degradation and pervasive corruption despite significant economic and social progress.

East India was at the heart of the ancient Sena, Magadha, Mithila, Maurya and Kalinga empires.

After the Kalinga War The Maurya king Ashoka send out emissaries to spread Buddhism across Asia. The famous university of Nalanda was in East India. Chinese travellers visited Buddhist and Hindu temples and libraries in the universities of Magadha Empire. The Emperor of Kalinga Mahameghavahana Aira Kharavela was one of the most powerful monarchs of ancient India. The Jain thirkhankar Mahaveer was born here and founded Jainism.

Islamic invasions in the 13th century resulted in the collapse of Hindu kings and most Buddhists, especially in East Bengal, converted to Islam. East India including Bihar and West Bengal was part of the Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries.Orissa remained a powerful Hindu dynasty under the rule of Soma/Keshari Dynasty, Eastern Ganga Dynasty, Surya Dynasty till the end of 16th century. The mighty Nalanda University existed at Nalanda which was destroyed by Bakhtiar Khilji during 12th century and also defeated Sena Dynasty. Sher Shah Suri, who became king of India after defeating Humayun, founded the city of Patna on the ruins of ancient Patliputra.

With the arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century, outposts were established in Orissa Coast and Bengal. The European traders established their trade centers in the famous ports of Balasore,Pipili,Palur in the Orissa Coast during the rule of the last independent Hindu king Gajapati Prataprudra Dev.The Portuguese were in Chittagong, Dutch in Chinsura, French in Pondicherry and the English founded Calcutta. In 1756, the British East India Company defeated the local Indian Muslim rulers in Plassey and established British Rule in the subcontinent. Its capital Calcutta grew into one of the world's greatest ports. Tea from Calcutta was off-loaded by American separatists in the American War of Independence in the 1770s. In the 19th century, Calcutta's traders and merchants traded with the rest of the British Empire, continental Europe, the United States and China. Indentured Indian labourers from Bihar, sailed to new homes in Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Surinam and South Africa.

India's independence movement had strong roots in East India. The feudal land system, established through the Permanent Settlement of Bengal, was unpopular among the peasant cultivators and the numerous agricultural labourers found all over Bihar and Bengal (Khetmazdoors). The Indian War of Independence in 1857 started in Bengal. British war propaganda asserted there were atrocities by the mutinous soldiers in the Black Hole of Calcutta. Eventually the British prevailed and Calcutta remained capital of Britain's Asian dominions until 1911. The Indian National Congress was founded in Calcutta. During Gandhi's freedom movement, the Bihari village of Champaran was an important supporter of non-violent resistance. Great poets of the stature of Rabindranath Tagore championed the movement for self-rule.

The Partition also had its roots in undivided Eastern India. The Muslim League was founded in Dhaka in 1906. In the 1937 provincial elections, it came to power in Bengal in alliance with the Krishak Praja Party. in 1944, it gained an absolute majority in the Bengal Assembly, and Hussein Suhrawardy became the Chief Minister. After widespread communal violence during the Direct Action Day protests in Calcutta, leading to further communal violence across British India, the creation of Pakistan became inevitable. In 1947, further communal violence displaced millions as independence and partition of British India occurred. Some Bihari and Bengali Muslims fled to the newly created East Pakistan. Most East Bengal Hindus fled to India.

The 1950s saw industrial progress in East India. These were cut short with the conflict in neighbouring East Pakistan and by the Communist movement at home. In 1971, in the course of Bangladesh's independence struggle, millions of refugees poured into East India. From the turn of the century West Bengal's economic recovery flew through its roofs and now racks second largest GDP contributor after Maharastra according to List of Indian states by GDP and is now the third fastest growing economy.

Bihar and Orissa struggled with economic issues but developed steadily. Jharkhand became a separate state on 15 November 2000. The economic boom since 2005 started to spread new malls, highways, airports and IT office complexes, but not evenly across the region.


Ratnagiri Orissa : Part of Puspagiri University
Ratnagiri Orissa : Part of Puspagiri University

East India is home to some great universities and centres of excellence such as Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, International Institute of Information Technology, Bhubaneswar, National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar, Institute of Mathematics and Applications, Bhubaneswar, National Law University, Cuttack, Indian Institute of Mass Communication Dhenkanal, Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology (India)Bhubaneswar, National Council of Educational Research and Training East Zone institute in Bhubaneswar, Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Indian Institute of Technology Patna, Bengal Engineering and Science University (founded in 1856), Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Indian Statistical Institute, Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Visva-Bharati University, NITs in Rourkela, Durgapur, Jamshedpur & Patna, Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur, Xaviers Institute of Management XIMB at Bhubaneswar,Xaviers Institute of Social Services[XISS]Ranchi, University of Calcutta, Presidency University, Kolkata, Jadavpur University, Patna University, Magadh University, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Sri Sri University, Cuttack, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Indian School of Mines University, Dhanbad Birla Institute Of Technology, Sindri; Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and Birsa Agricultural University. One of the first great universities in recorded history, the Nalanda University,] of this ancient University including a consortium led by Singapore along with China, India and is located in the state of Bihar, while another recently discovered one, Puspagiri University in Orissa. There has been various plans for revival Japan. Vedanta University, which plans to establish itself as one of the biggest academic institutions in the world, is being established in Puri, Orissa.

Urban areas

West Bengal's capital Kolkata, the capital of British India until 1911, is the biggest metropolis and economically dominant city of the region and third largest in India and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Kolkata is very fast transforming itself to become city equipped with every facilities for IT and ITES and also financial outsourcing hub and its satellites Saltlake City and Rajarhat are taken the burdens of India's IT and financial boom.It is also known as city of joy,cultural capital of India,intellectual capital fo India etc. However, the mid-sized cities of Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Puri in Orissa and Durgapur, Siliguri, Asansol in West Bengal are emerging urban areas . In Bihar, Patna, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur and Gaya are important urban areas.

Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Orissa. The city has a long history of over 2000 years starting with Chedi dynasty (around 2nd century BCE) who had Sisupalgarh near present-day Bhubaneswar as their capital. Historically Bhubaneswar has been known by different names such as Toshali, Kalinga Nagari, Nagar Kalinga, Ekamra Kanan, Ekamra Kshetra and Mandira Malini Nagari (city of temples) otherwise known as the temple city of India. The largest city of Orissa, Bhubaneswar today is a center of economic and religious importance in the region. With the economic liberalisation policy adopted by the Government of India in the 90s, Bhubaneswar received large investments in the fields of telecommunications, IT and higher education, particularly engineering. The city is home to around 60 engineering colleges (as of 2009)[3] and the number is growing every year. The city is also home to many tutorials and coaching institutes who prepare students for various entrance exams.

Retail and Real Estate have also emerged as big players. Recent times have seen large scale retail chains such as Reliance, Vishal MegaMart, Big Bazaar, Pantaloon, Pal Heights, Indulge, New Leaf, Habib's, had opened outlets in Bhubaneswar. Large corporations like DLF Universal and Reliance Industries have entered the real estate market in the city. DLF Limited is developing an Infopark spread over an area of in the city. Expanding its business portfolio, the Kolkata-based Saraf Group, promoters of Forum Mart shopping malls is constructing another Shopping mall named Forum Lifestyle mall a lifestyle mall in Bhubaneswar with 1,200 car parks. The rich minerals resources of Orissa have been the backbone of the economy dominated by Government.Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and private organizations like Jindal, Vedanta and TATAS. Despite this rapid growth, an ample number of the populace live in slums. Migration from rural areas, especially from the northern districts of Andhra Pradesh, has led to the growth of slums which are a major challenge to the city's growth. The slum dwellers work as auto rickshaw drivers or small vendors but this is not true for everyone. A lot of them are unemployed and are being drawn into crime.The main problem of the city is transport as the quality and length of roads have not increased with respect to the rise in number of vehicles. Purchasing power of people of this city is quite high but this city does not get enough highlightment and often neglected by big channels like Discovery, NatGeo,etc.

Rajpath at night
Rajpath at night

The Government has fostered growth in this sphere by the development of IT Parks such as Infocity 1 and the new Infocity 2. The Info City was conceived as a five star park, under the Export Promotion Industrial Parks (EPIP) Scheme to create high quality infrastructure facilities for setting up Information Technology related industries. Infosys and Satyam Computer Services Ltd. have been present in Bhubaneswar since 1996-97. Its current head count stands at around 5000. The first part of the TCS centre is ready and has a capacity to accommodate nearly 1,200 professionals but the software major has only 250 employees at present. The Finland telecommunication company, Nethawk (, has its India R&D center at Bhubaneswar. The Canadian giant, Gennum Corporation has its India development centre at Bhubaneswar. The famous auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd. also have a center in Bhubaneswar. The private STP is located at Infocity in Chandaka, Bhubaneswar with a view to provide incubation and infrastructure facilities to new and young entrepreneurs in the MSME sector, The intelligent building of the JSS STP is spread in a sprawling campus and houses state-of-art technology to fulfil the growing demands of highly competent IT professionals.

The Eastern India particularly Jharkhand is rich in mineral resources which resulted in Economic boom in Damodar Valley region and regions near Kolkata which resulted in development of cities such as Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Ranchi, and Patna.


Bengali is the dominant language of West Bengal as well as the whole of East India,spoken by well over 90 million people . Hindi along with Maithili, Magahi and Urdu is the dominant language of Bihar. Hindi and Urdu are the dominant language of Jharkhand, however 34% people of Jharkhand are tribals (2001 Census) and speak their own tribal languages and use Hindi as second language.

Oriya is the dominant language of the state of Orissa.

The Indo-Aryan languages spoken in this region descend from the Magadhi Prakrit, which was spoken in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Bengali, Oriya and Assamese emerged as distinct languages from Magadhi Prakrit and Maithili around 9 century A.D.

Many of the minority adivasis (indigenous tribal people) of East India belong to the Munda branch of the Austro-Asiatic language family. Major representatives of this group include the Munda, Santal, Oraon and Ho peoples. Santals are the largest tribal group from the region.


The region lies in the humid-subtropical zone, and experiences hot summers from March to June, the monsoon from July to October and mild winters from November to February. The interior states have a drier climate and slightly more extreme climate, especially during the winters and summers, but the whole region receives heavy, sustained rainfall during the monsoon months.Snowfall occurs in the extreme northern regions of West Bengal and Daringbadi in Orissa.[4]

Religion and culture

The majority of the population of East India is Hindu with Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Sikh minorities. The Muslims constitute a very large minority in this region, with 25% of the population in Bengal and 17% in Bihar.They can be found in each and every District of West Bengal and Bihar.Hindus formed 94% of total population of Orissa.Christians are the largest minority in Orissa.

Durga, Jagannath and Shiva are particularly popular Hindu deities in this region. Durga &Kali are patron deities of Bengal and Mithila whereas Jagannath or Vishnu is patron god among Oriya people. Shiva is popular in all areas of eastern states.

Among tribals of the region Hinduism is the dominant religion. Some tribals also follow their indigenous religions (Sarana).

There are several places of pilgrimage for Hinduism. Puri in Orissa is one the four holy City/Dham of Hindu religion and particularly known for Rath Yatra festival. Bhubaneswar is considered to be the "City of Temples".Konark houses an old sun temple.

Bihar Sharif is an important pilgrimage centre for Muslims all over Bihar.

Dakshineswar Kali Temple is a famous Kali temple in West Bengal. In Bihar, Gaya is known for temple for salvation of ancestors. Other places are Sultanganj in Bhagalpur and Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga in Deoghar, Jharkhand. Bodh Gaya is the city sacred to Buddhism. There are also other cities sacred to Jains in Bihar and Jharkhand.


Gaudiya Nritya, the classical dance of Bengal.
Gaudiya Nritya, the classical dance of Bengal.

Odissi]], a classical dance from Orissa Odissi is the only classical dance in eastern India. It originates from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences.[5][6] Odissi has a long, unbroken tradition of 2,000 years and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BC. Mahari Dance is one of the important dance forms of Orissa and originated in the temples of Orissa. History of Orissa provides evidence of the 'Devadasi' cult in Orissa. Devadasis were dancing girls who were dedicated to the temples of Orissa. The Devadasis in Orissa were known as 'Maharis' and the dance performed by them came to be known as Mahari Dance. Gotipua dance is another form of dance in Orissa. In Oriya colloquial language Gotipua means single boy. The dance performance done by a single boy is known as Gotipua dance. There are many folk dances in east India, with the best-known being Ghumura Dance, Sambalpuri and Chhau dance. Chhau dance (or Chau dance) is a form of tribal martial dance originating in Mayurbhanj, the princely state of Orissa.It is also seen in the Indian states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. There are three regional variations of the dance. Seraikella Chau was developed in Seraikella, the administrative head of the Seraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand; Purulia Chau in Purulia district of West Bengal; and Mayurbhanj Chau in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa. Ghumura Dance Archaeological evidence shows[7] cave paintings from the pre-historic period discovered by Gudahandi of Kalahandi and Yogi Matha of Nuapada district that represent the Ghumura and Damru, among other instruments. These paintings date to as early as 8000 B.C. and from such painiting the antiquity of musical instrument Ghumura and Damru can be imagined. The origin of Ghumura goes back to ancient times. There is a beautiful waterfall in the river valley of Indravati which was initially recognized by Chindak Nagas of Chakrakot.[8] Many believe that Ghumura dance originated from this river valley and gradually spread into the areas between Indravati and Mahanadi, indicating this dance form belongs to 10th century A.D. The western Orissa has also great variety of dance forms unique to Orissa culture. The children's verses are known as "Chhiollai", "Humobauli" and "Dauligit". The adolescent poems are "Sajani", "Chhata", "Daika", "Bhekani". The eternal youth composes "Rasarkeli", "Jaiphul", "Maila Jada", "Bayamana", "Gunchikuta" and "Dalkhai". The work-man's poetry comprises "Karma" and "Jhumer", both pertaining to Lord Vishwakarma and the "Karamashani" goddess. The professional entertainers perform Dand, Danggada, Mudgada, Ghumra, Sadhana, Sabar Sabaren, Disdigo, Nachina Bajnia, Samparda and Sanchar. They are performed on a variety of occasions and their rhymes and rhythms change accordingly. Bengali dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as from the broader Indian dance tradition. Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.


Orissi music is a classical music in India originated from the eastern state of Orissa. Indian Classical music has five significant branches: Avanti, Panchali, Udramagadhi, Hindustani and carnatic. Of these, Udramagadhi exists in the form of Orissi music.[9] Generally, Orissi is one of the classical dances of India performed with Orissi music. Orissi music got shaped during the time of famous Oriya poet, Jayadeva, who composed lyrics meant to be sung. By the 11th century AD folk music of Orissa existing in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari was modified into the classical style. However, Orissi songs were written even before the Oriya language developed. Orissi music has a rich legacy dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when king Kharvela, the ruler of Orissa (Kalinga) patronized this music and dance.[10]

Like Hindustani and Carnatic systems, Orissi music is a separate system of Indian classical music and is having all the essential as well as potential ingredients of Indian Classical form. But it has not come to limelight due to apathy from the time of British rule in Orissa, want of its proper study, revival, propagation, etc. Despite the fact, the traditional music form could be saved and maintained in its pristine form. Thanks to the musicians particularly of Jaga Akhadas of Puri district, who could develop and maintain the music. The music movement of Orissa, however, took a different turn after independence.

Like other aspects of her culture, music of the sacred land (Orissa) is charming, colourful, variegated encompassing various types. The existing musical tradition of Orissa, the cumulative experience of the last two thousand five hundred years if not more, can broadly be grouped under five categories such as : (1) Tribal Music, (2) Folk Music, (3) Light Music, (4) Light-Classical Music, (5) Classical Music, which need a short elucidations for better understanding the subject in all India context.

The tribal music as the title signifies is confined to the tribals living mainly in the hilly and jungle regions and sparsely in the coastal belt of Orissa. It is interesting to note that Orissa has the third largest concentration of tribes constituting about one fourth of the total population. They are distributed over 62 tribal communities.

Orissa is the treasure house of Folk Songs which are sung on different festivals and specific occasions in their own enjoyment. Folk music in general is the expression of the ethos and mores of the folk communities. Of the bewildering variety of folk music of Orissa, mention may be made of Geeta, Balipuja Geeta, Kela Keluni Geeta, Dalkhai Geeta, Kendra Geeta, Jaiphula Geeta, Ghumura Geeta, Ghoda Nacha and Danda Nacha Geeta, Gopal Ugala and Osa-Parva-Geeta etc.

Bhajan, Janan, Oriya songs based on ragas, Rangila Chaupadi etc. are grouped under Light classical music, which forms an important segment of Orissan music. Sri Geetagovinda, Anirjukta Pravadha, Divya Manusi Prabandha, Chautisa, Chhanda, Chaupadi (now known as Orissi), Champu, Malasri, Sariman, Vyanjani, Chaturang, Tribhang, Kuduka Geeta, Laxana and Swaramalika are the various sub-forms, which individually or collectively constitute the traditional Orissi music. These sub-forms of the traditional Orissi music, can be categorised under the classical music of Orissa.

Panchali is a form of narrative folk songs of the Indian state of West Bengal.The word Panchali probably originates from panchal or panchalika, meaning puppet. According to another school of that, Panchali originates from the word panch, which means five in Bengali language, referring to the five elements of this genre: song, music, extempore versifying, poetic contests, and dance.

Bihar is among the few Indian states which has a rich subaltern culture. The region's folk songs are associated with the various events in the life of an ordinary person. There are songs like sohar - performed during childbirth, sumangali - associated with wedding, ropnigeet - performed during the season of sowing paddy, katnigeet - performed during the paddy harvesting season, purbi, chaita, hori, bidesia, ghato, birha, kajari, irni/ birni, pachra, jhumar, jatsari, aalah, nirgun, and samdaun. There is also the tradition of war songs called Beer Kunwar.

The influence of Bihari music in seen in regions such as Mauritius, South Africa and the Caribbean, where a large of Bihari indentured labourers were taken as coolies during the nineteenth century.

There is a great tradition of folk songs started by Bhikhari Thakur, the redoubtable artist from the Bhojpur region.

Songs written by Maithili poet Vidyapati are famous in the Mithila Region.

Other wandering folk singers include the Kathaks, who travelled in groups and performed accompanied by dholak, sarangi, tamburu and majira. Other musician classes included Roshan Chouki, Bhajaniya, Kirtaniya, Pamaria and Bhakliya.

See also

References and footnotes

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