Stories from Mithila

Exploring Muzaffarpur: Lac Bangles, Garib Nath Temple, and Litchi Research Centre

by Kalpana Jha on Sep 13, 2023

Namaste Ji,

With JhaJi Store, I set out on a mission to take the true essence of Bihar's cultural heritage and stories to people all over the world.

It is in that spirit that I want to share the stories of my visit to Muzaffarpur with you today!

You have known about Muzaffarpur, or other places in Bihar by reading reviews or travelogs.

I’m writing this blog to add my perspective, of someone who was born and brought up in Bihar, and lives 50 kms away in Darbhanga.

I hope to show you places that are attached to common people, stories and folktales that only natives to the place may know about.

The world knows Muzaffarpur as the land of Shahi Litchis and they're delicious. I’m going to cover that in this blog for sure.

But I’ll also take you beyond the veil of Litchi orchards to a fascinating history and culture nestled in Muzaffarpur, that goes back thousands of years in time. At the same time, it is also a buzzing commercial hub in northern Bihar.

It's like a perfect blend of the past and the present.

So, join me on this virtual adventure, my friend, and let's discover Muzaffarpur by looking closer at three gems in the city!

#1: Garib Nath Mandir: Where Faith Meets History

Garib Nath Mandir is an ancient temple of immense historical significance that traces its roots back several centuries. It is believed to have been established during the 18th century.

The temple derives its name from the prominent deity worshiped within its sacred premises. Garib Nath, which translates to "Lord of the Poor," is the deity of the temple.

The name is attributed to the compassionate and benevolent nature of the deity. This deity is known to shower blessings and help those in need.

I have been to this temple many times, but this time we had a privilege to talk to the Temple's head pandit, Umesh Mishra Ji. Hear him talk about it in this video:

Word of this miracle spread like wildfire, and people began flocking to Garib Nath Mandir, seeking blessings for their own desires and aspirations.

Over time, it became a widely held belief that the temple has a unique ability. This temple granted the heartfelt wishes of those who approach it with genuine faith and devotion.

We also heard from Ashutosh Pathak, who’s been serving the temple for decades. He told us of another amazing ritual of the temple - BHASMARTI.

Bhasma means Ashes and aarti means offering prayers.

There are 4 types of Aartis that are done for Shivling at Garib nath temple but the most unique one is this Bhasmarti which takes place early morning around 4am. 

The aarti is symbolic to waking god in the morning . It's a very different and unique experience that I had at this temple. Anyone who has a spiritual inclination must experience this.

According to Umesh Mishra Ji, another Pandit ,the temple sees thousands of visitors almost every day.

With all these treasured stories and unique prayer practices we ended our journey to Garib Nath temple with high spirits.

Our next destination was Islampur as it's known for its Lac bangles

#2: Lac Bangles of Islampur : A Kaleidoscope of Colors

There’s a famous shop in Islampur that my family frequents for all purchases - Baba Lathi Bhandar, Islampur 

There we met Md Riyaz, the shop owner who chatted with us about lac bangles. We also met the artisans who made these bangles.

The craftsmanship behind these stunning pieces of jewellery is a sight to witness.

Artisans melt the lac resin, which they get from lac trees that grow in the region. The molten lac is then shaped around a wooden mold. Finally, the artisans add vibrant colors and embellishments to it.

In this video he told us about how auspicious these bangles are and are worn by most of the married women as a symbol of prosperity . These bangles are used during CHHATH PUJA, a very auspicious day where women do “solah singaar”.

Solah Shringar” means 16 bridal adornments. It includes 16 steps that a woman should follow to enhance her embellishment from head to toe.

Bangles are one of those adornments .Md Riyaaz also told us that with time and modernisation these lac bangles are customized according to the latest fashion and demands of customers. Thus this is how they are trying to push this art to stay and survive.

#3: Litchi Research Center: Secrets of the Sweet Taste

From our spiritual journey at Garibnath temple to buying colorful and beautiful bangles, our last stop was at Litchi research center.

As the name suggests we thought it to be a place with scientists doing research i.e. all work and no fun , but it was a different experience altogether for me .

We were awestruck by the large area where the Litchis are grown and brought to perfection.

We had a word with Ashok Dhakad who is farm in-charge of Litchi research centre who told us about innovative techniques aimed at improving litchi production and post-harvest management.

These included advanced irrigation systems, pest control methods, and fruit processing techniques. Ashok Dhakkad also told us about the journey of litchi from farms to market.

Skilled farmers cultivate litchi trees, taking care of their water, nutrients, and protection from pests. As the trees bloom with beautiful flowers, bees play a crucial role in pollination, enabling the formation of litchi fruits.

These fruits gradually develop and ripen under the warm sun. When the time is right, farmers carefully harvest the ripe litchis, ensuring they are at their peak of sweetness and flavor.

It was treat to the senses as we walked through the orchards.

The Air carried a captivating fragrance of ripe litchis.

We took permission to taste a freshly plucked Shahi Litchi. And we walked away savoring the sweet flavor.

Such is the charm of spirituality, craftsmanship and food in Muzaffarpur.

It is a place where traditions come alive, and the essence of Bihar's cultural heritage can be experienced firsthand.

If you have already been to Muzaffarpur, what place will you add to the list above. Let me know in the comments.


Kalpana Jha

Founder of JhaJi Store

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