Nitish floats 99 lamps to kickstart Bihar Divas

Patna: The much-awaited Bihar Divas celebrations were inaugurated Tuesday with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar floating 99 lamps in the presence of hundreds of people at the historic Gandhi Maidan to mark the 99th anniversary of the state.

Speaking after inaugurating the three-day celebrations, Nitish Kumar said Bihar has changed and it is changing fast with development taking place with a high growth rate.

"Bihar is changing, now being a Bihari is a matter of pride. It has now an identity to assert by people," Nitish Kumar said.

He said that Bihar will be a developed state in the next few years.

Thousands of people across Bihar cleaned up their villages, marking a unique start to the much awaited Bihar Divas celebrations.

Principal Secretary HRD Anjani Kumar Singh said that villagers voluntarily carried out cleaning work in 45,000 villages to make it a special day. Bihar Divas marks the day when the British carved out the state from the Bengal Presidency March 22, 1912.

"In all villages also, people will light 99 lamps to mark their participation in Bihar Divas," Singh said.

The state will mark its centenary in 2012 with programmes throughout the year. The chief minister has said the celebration was planned to help advertise Bihar.

The historic Gandhi Maidan here was readied for grand celebrations to mark Bihar Divas. In Patna, thousands of people are expected to gather at the historic grounds from Tuesday to Thursday, said an official from the department of art, culture and youth affairs.

"It has been completely changed. Dozens of artists, including foreigners, have decorated it like never before to depict the rich culture, tradition and heritage of Bihar," he added.

The main entrance gate - 30-ft-high and 80-ft-wide - is being constructed with images depicting the essence of rural Bihar.

"Artists have chosen to decorate the gateway with Tikuli and Manjusha art along with Madhubani paintings, all popular art forms from Bihar," said Shouvik Narayan of Kosha Fantasies, one of the three artist groups engaged in the decoration work.

Two showcase gates on Bihar`s popular festival of Chhath and rural game jhijhia have also been made.

A brainchild of Nitish Kumar, Bihar Divas was first celebrated in 2010.

Tuesday had been declared a public holiday in the state.