The culture of Patna steadily modulated and evolved over the period of its 3000 years of existence basks in the glory of its indigenous ethnicity synthesized with concurrent modernity. The native population of Patna fabricated out of the amalgamation of the endemic tribes of the region and the foreigners & immigrants presently comprises of the diverse sects of people migrated and settled here for centuries. With the proliferation and spreading of various religious faiths including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism in Patna and the surrounding areas, the contemporary Patna delineates a kaleidoscopic demeanor characterized with the secular attitude that depicts and advocates the Indian doctrine of ‘Unity in Diversity’ in its true sense.
Even during the communal turbulence in other parts of the country, Patna remained calm and composed and laid an example of religious and communal unison and harmony. With the dissimilarity of the religion, cast and creed, the culture of Patna is prominently peculiarized with the multeity of traditions, customs, festivals, languages, crafts and so on which renders this antediluvian city with a culturally vibrant and vivacious disposition. The majority of the people of Patna follow Hinduism which is succeeded by Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism in descending order. They are traditional by heart and prefer the classic and long established way of living.
You will mainly find people living in joint families and pertaining to the orthodox ways of living. They greatly believe in ‘God the Almighty’, hold faith in His absolute powers and worship their deities in various ways. The residents of Patna follow simple and spiritual way of life and believe in the traditional, cultural and ritualistic approach. Marriages are exclusively arranged by the parents and the wedding ceremonies still happen in the traditional way only. The civilians of Patna harbor great enthusiasm for movies and they have a ball watching both Hindi and Bhojpuri cinemas.
Hindi is the official language of Patna; however the Bihari Hindi greatly differs both in the dialect and the accent from the Hindi that is spoken in rest of the country. The Hindi of Patna is normally influenced by the regional languages including Bhojpuri, Braj, Magahi and Maithily, which are widely spoken here. English is also fairly understood in Patna but not used so often.
The culinary front of Patna is abounding with various delectable food items such as Litti Chokha, Khichadi, Pittha, Makhana, Dhuska, Kadhi Bari, Ghugni, Kafta, Shaahi Jhinga Masaledaar, Jhor Waali Machhli, Jhinga Biryaani, Parauntha, Patna Chaat, Samosa Chaat, Tikki Chaat, Dahi Chura Chini, Tilkut, Khaja, Peda, Kalakand, Motichoor Ka Laddu, Anarsa, Kala Jamun, Khubi Ka Lai, Pua, Chena Murki, Laai, Sonpapdi, Balushahi, Halwa, Perukia, Chiwra, Sattu-Pani, Lassi, etc.
The shopping delights of the Patna city comprise Madhubani & Mithila Paintings, Raw Tussar Silk Clothes, Traditional Handicrafts, Stone and Bead Jewellery, Stone Pottery Items, Hand Painted Wall Hangings, Miniature Paintings on Leaves and Paper, Appliqué Work of Fabric, Leather Goods, Wooden Stools, etc. Even though a number of schools of painting and various art forms like the Patna Qalam perished prematurely due to the lack of support and benefaction.
The chief festivals celebrated at Patna include Chhath, Sonepur Mela, Diwali, Holi, Durga Puja, Makar Sankranti, Maha Shivratri, Teej, Ram Navami, Raksha Bandhan, Janmastmi, Jitiya, Saraswati Puja, Chitra Gupta Puja, Pitrapaksha Mela, Kartik Purnima, Gurupurab, Buddha Purnima, Paryushan, Mahavir Jayanti, Muharram, Bakri Eid, Eid, Christmas, Patna Film Festival, Food Festivals, etc.
Chhath Festival also called ‘Aastha ka Mahaparv’ is the biggest festival of Patna celebrated in the honor of Lord Surya i.e. the Sun God for surviving and nurturing life on the earth. Observed for four consecutive days, the Chhath Festivals falls twice a year in the Hindu months of Chaitra and Kartik. The celebration includes holy baths, fasting and offering arghya to the Sun God at the sunrise and the sunset by standing in the Ganga River.
‘Nahay-Khaye’ is the first day of the Chhath Festival when the devotees bathe in the Ganga River and eat only one time during the day. ‘Kharna’ is the second day when the devotees fast the whole day and eat the Prasad of Kheer Puri in the evening after the sunset. ‘Sanjhiya Arghya’ is the third day of Chhath when offerings are prepared during the day and the devotees gather at the riverbanks in the evening to worship the Sun God at Sunset. They spend the whole night there only without sleeping. ‘Paran’ is the forth day when the devotees, after the night long ‘Jagaran’ worship the rising Sun in the morning. Then they break their fast on the river banks itself and thus mark the end of the Chhath Festival.
Sonepur Mela, held at Sonepur about 25 kilometers away from Patna is one of the largest cattle fairs in the world which beckons the cattle traders not only from India but from other Asiatic countries as well. Elephants, horses, camels, cows and other animals are sold here in galore. This fair starts on the day of Kartik Purnima in the English month of November.
Pitrapaksha Mela is observed at Gaya in the month of September when people offer Pindadaan and Tarpan to their departed forefathers in order to grant them with the Moksha i.e. salvation.