Rituals and Ceremonies

The art was traditionally practiced by rural women who painted on the walls and floor of their house during social events like marriage, sacred thread ceremony of the Brahmins, childbirth and other religious and ritualistic occasions. The paintings relate to various rites from birth to death - Sathhudi, a ritual observed during the seventh and ninth months of pregnancy; Chatiyar puja, done on the sixth day after the birth of a child; Annaprashan, the child’s rice eating ceremony Akshararambh, to mark a child’s entry into the world of learning; Janaur, to mark the symbolic rebirth of young Brahmin boys and also marriages and deaths. Festivals like Chhath and Chauth Chand are also occasions for practicing this ritual art. Aripona is floor decoration made on auspicious occasions like Pujas, Vratas and various rites. Arva chawal (type of rice) and Sindoor (vermillion powder) is mixed and painted on the floor depicting tantric symbols, symbols for the Mother Goddess.


The walls of the wedding chamber (Kohbar Ghar) are adorned with symbolic paintings symbolizing fertility and life. It was basically a practice of elaborate wall paintings of the nuptial chamber, Kohbar Ghar with representations of the lotus, bamboo grove, fish, birds and snakes in union, Dipo (bride-bridegroom) which largely symbolizes fertility and life. The painting which is painted on the walls of a Kohbar is also called Kohbar and this is one of the oft painted motif of Madhubani Painting. An elephant is drawn on the wall down where the Kohbar is made. A Jandala (decorative baskets made out of bamboo for displaying bride’s gifts) is placed in front of the wall. This painting lavishly deals with rich variety of colors. Traditionally, Kohbar has been passed down since ages from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region. The role of the Kohbar is obviously very important in Maithil marriage. As told by Guru Vidyanath Jha, a Rangmanch (stage) was constructed during the swayambhar of Sitadevi. For that occasion, different expert artists were called from outside to draw around the walls of the rooms. A room was also made ready as the Kohbar Ghar – bamboo tree (symbol of prosperity), flowers, birds, fish, figures of gods/goddesses; bride & bride-groom etc were drawn on the walls. Each object had its own significance.

The word ‘Aripan’ means alpana. Among people of Mithila, there is a ritual to draw alpana during auspicious occasions. They use Arwa rice or Atap rice for this. Different designs are drawn for different occasions. All these styles were traditionally done on the mud walls of Kohbar Ghar, Gosain Ghar and the mud floors (Aripan). Alpana is popularly drawn at places of worship, houses and main entry doors of house and in front courtyard. Some of these artistic creations have great religious importance and these are drawn during particular religious ceremonies or auspicious occasions such as marriages, threading ceremony, naming ceremony etc. to perform rituals while others are for particular God / Goddess and a few for aesthetic look.

Swastik is a special type of alpana which is drawn during any auspicious occasion. But it is observed that it is widely drawn during worshipping Lord Ganesh. A special symbol is being used which is considered to be extremely auspicious.

Daspata is a special type of alpana which is drawn during Bhaiduj. This is drawn at the courtyard of the house as the worshipping also takes place there. A chauki (elevated wooden stand) is being put in front of the alpana and brother is made to sit on it.

This is also a special kind of alpana drawn at the place of worshipping Lord Vishnu. Footprints of Lord Vishnu are being drawn at the centre of the alpana which remains surrounded by eight kinds of weapons used by the gods. A special practice is to keep things used in everyday life in the vicinity. Instead of Vishnu, Goddess Durga or others can also be worshipped. This is occasion is known as Jagaran.

Ashtadal is being drawn during worshipping Lord Vishnu or Satyanarayan. It is observed on the ekadashi day. Footprints of Lord Vishnu are being drawn at the centre of the alpana which remains surrounded by eight kinds of weapons used by the gods and the ghat (earthen pot used to make offerings to God) being placed on the footprints.