Over thousands of years various traditional dance forms have evolved in Bihar. The folk dance tradition in Bihar can be divided into three groups. First, the dance performed during poetry performance. The second stream is those of the tribal people who are closer to mother earth and their dances are heavily influenced by indigenous development. The third stream relates to the other regions of south Bihar. Most of the folk dances are religious in nature, in which, gods and goddesses are invoked through dance, performed to the rhythm of folk songs and music.
Folk songs are mostly sung by Bihari amateurs all over the state. The Thumar or Barahmasa is sung by female in groups when they are engaged in paddy plantation. When grinding corn in Jata or Chakki, they sing Jatusari. Sohar is sung on the occasion of child-birth and Sumangali, when marriage rites are to conclude.
In early nineteenth century Bihar, music was cultivated by certain professional classes alone and rich men extended generous patronage to musicians, especially to superior female artistes who were allowed small endowments.
The Hindu Kathaks went about in-groups of three or four and sang with Tamburu, Sarangi, Majira and dholak accompaniment, mostly from Jaideva's 'Geet Govinda'. They sang common songs and love songs of Bengal. The Yajaks were employed at funerals, the Bhajaniyas and Kirtaniyas were employed by Brahmans to sing holy songs after the morning prayer, > Roshan Chouki parties were employed to play on pipes and drums and also to accompany Muharram processions. The Pamarias, men and women, who were mostly Muslims, thronged to sing where marriages were being held and birth has taken place and were satisfied only when they were given a handsome remuneration. Most women sang at marriage ceremonies.
There was also a class of dancing boys called Bhakliyas. These dancers had no fixed abode. They came to Bihar to celebrate Holy in the month of Chaitra.
The folk dance tradition in Bihar has three distinct streams. One of them is the folk dances of Videha, the present Mithila which is mainly rooted in the songs of poets, the second stream is those of the Adivasis which are closer to nature, social institutions and rituals. The third stream relates to the Chhau dance of Seraikella and other regions of south Bihar.