State symbols are various species that are emblematic of their state and are chosen to be representative of the state from their class of life-forms, based on their cultural significance and historical or folk connotations. Typically organisms which are ascribed high value and positive metaphors and associations are selected to symbolize the state. They underscore the rich heritage of the state. Just like India has it’s National Animal, Bird, Tree, and Flower, every Indian state has its own set as well. Often state-symbolization draws the attention of conservatory efforts and awareness towards this iconic flora and fauna. These native denizens of the state are occasionally endemic i.e. they are found only in the region and not elsewhere. The symbols are ideally so salient, characteristic and defining of the state, that they mutually remind of one another – the creature conjures an image of the state and the state reminds us of the creature among its other inhabitants.
Let us pour a cursory glance at the various state symbols of Bihar:-
The Gaur is the largest bovine (a member of the cow and buffalo family) in the world. It is also called the Indian bison due to its size. Its domesticated form is called gayal or Mithun. It was once widespread, its habitat spanning most of South-East Asia, from China to Malaysia. It prefers moist forests, although most of its habitat is now compromised and its population fragmented. It seems that they occur in highlands, however, this is more of a compromise than a preference because most of the low-lying areas in the region have been converted to croplands and human habitats forcing the wild denizens into displacement and confinement. Besides Bihar, it is also the state animal of Goa. It has an imposing appearance with its frontal physique being particularly bulky, menacing and intimidating. It’s arching back has a powerful, convex built. The gaur is marked by a distinctive protruding rump. It has no natural predators beyond the Royal Bengal Tiger, even to whom an adult is a nigh-impossible prey unless wounded. The formidable beast has a distinctive high-pitched alarm call. It is frequently a motif of vigour. It has sturdy and stout horns emanating from both sides of its head and the horned portion of its forehead is often light-straw coloured.
The House Sparrow is a common sight in rural Bihar, picking and pecking at random objects and flying short sorties between feeding grounds, human settlements and their nests. They frequent fields and households are alike. Traditionally they’re inhabiting the holes and alcoves, wherein they tuck their pell-mell nests is considered auspicious. Rural homesteads at times encourage and foster sparrow nesting. Sparrows are pale-brown and grey coloured passerine birds that are ubiquitous in the world. They are attracted to grain and use straw and bits and pieces of plant parts, fabric, etc. to fashion their bedding and nesting. Although grain-seeds and weed constitute its prime dietary staple, the little bird is not a fussy eater, opportunistically devouring tiny insects and vermin, besides a host of other edibles. The sparrows are known for the incessant chirping calls. The bird has many cultural connotations, particularly with prosperity, flourishment and fullness. The omnipresent birds are purportedly facing threat from hazardous radiation from communication towers. Although the species as a whole is far from imperilled, the soothing sight and sound of theirs are vanishing from our ambience.
Kachnar or Bauhinia Variegata is a medium-sized fragrant tree which looks gorgeous in full bloom, which in turn can last for several months. The flowers bloom in a crowning overarching shape. The leaves resemble a cow’s hoof. The flowers remind one of the showy orchids, with five irregulars, usually, slightly overlapping petals coloured magenta, lavender, mauve, lilac or at times white. The blossoming commences in late winter when the tree is devoid of its leaves. The blooming lasts until early summer. The 5-8 cm wide flowers occur in more or less ordered clumps at the terminals of the twigs. A postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate this tree. Also known as the orchid tree, it has deciduous leaves measuring 4-6 in across and has lobe-shaped anterior portions with heart-shaped bases. It is often said to resemble an ostentatious plumage.
The sacred fig also is known as the Pippala Tree, the Ashwattha tree or the Bodhi tree is one of the most spontaneously identifiable symbols of Bihar. It is revered in all three Dharmic faiths: Hindu, Buddhist and Jain. Its leaves have a spectacular vein pattern and an elegant streamlining tapering into a thin, sharp tip. The leaves are often preserved and valued for their translucency. The Peepal tree has numerous folk myths and beliefs associated with it as well. It is a robust plant that can be seen emanating from rock crevices and the crannies in buildings. It is also used as an ornamental tree. It is also known for its varied medicinal applications and traditional clinical value.
[divider]Also Read- Know how the strings of Chutney Music are attached to Bihar[/divider]
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