Like other ethnic tribal groups of the North East India and Assam, the Rabha tribe also have their own distinct language, literature and culture, which they express through mythology, folk songs, ballads, proverbs, etc. This community has rich oral literature, which passes from generation to generation. The Rabha oral literature can be classified into three major groups- namely (1). Folk songs, (2). Proverbs, riddles, sayings and charms, and (3). Folk-tales. Folk Songs:
The Rabha oral literature is endowed with rich and variegated folk songs. Such traditional songs are basically found in the subgroups such as Maitory, Rongdani, Kocha, Pati, Dahuri, Totola etc., who have retained their traditional faith and dialects. Rabha folk songs can be classified into the following categories:
(a) Songs associated with worship, fair and festivals;
(b) Songs connected with the rites of passage;
(c) Seasonal songs;
(d) Songs of love and yearning;
(e) Songs associated with merriment;
(f) Songs associated with agriculture;
(g) Work songs and
(h) Miscellaneous songs.
(a) Songs associated with worship, fair and festivals:
Seasonal fair and religious festivals are common in Rabha Society. These religious festivals are especially arranged for agricultural purposes. Among these religious festivals the worship of khoktshi or baikhu is very significant. It is primarily a dance and song based festival, organized before the commencement of the agricultural activities of the year. The festival begins with wishing each other a happy new year and in the memory of dodan and marukhetri. Deities like khoktshima, bairaNgiri, mairaNgiri, etc. are also individually worshiped, where praise-worthy huimaru or baikhu song of dodan and marukhetri, daduri, tshutsari,dzimari are sung through out the night. Beside these, sathar song is also sung by the youths.
The specimen of the song is quoted below: -
hoi aiya tshitsora
aiya tshitsora tolotshi porano dONa,
tematshe hoi aiya tshitsora.
aiya tshitsora tontshera doNa tematsha
hoi aiya tshitsora.
'Oh Goddess earth, please satisfy our heartiest salutation and listen to our humble prayers. Oh mother, bless us with grain and wealth. Oh mother, we are the descendents of marukhetri' Tukuria geet is another significant folk song related to religious festival. Tukuria geet is sung at the time of worshipping tukuriadeo (Goddess). In this ballad like song, the description of langadevata (mahadeva) , narayani (parbati), kashulkumari, supuni, ghardeboti, rathawali kachaikhaiti, dudhkwari, subsani ( nine sisters ) and gosani, coming down from heaven along with herkapeta (ganesh) with the intention of worship is enunciated. (b) Songs connected with the rites of passage:
The Rabha society has a wide-ranging numbers of folksongs connected with the rites of passage. Among these, mention may be made of to-tekamni tsay (Marriage related), pharkanti (folk song related to death ceremony), etc. Pharkanti is a folk song presented in 'sradha' ceremony. This kind of folk tradition is found in Maitori and Rongdani sub-groups. A part of pharkanti song is given below:
tondoleka ana ana
korok korok khara
ato dzonOm rano ure
naNtshe phamana oh bhai mansheleNka
'Oh kingfisher, you know what our brother will be born as' (C) Seasonal song:
Since time immemorial, the agrarian society of the Rabha follows different agriculture or season related festivals, where the pan picture of society is depicted through a variety of songs. Among these mention may be made of 'bhaluk notshuwar geet' (Bear dance), 'Ori / arimaga geet (bagging song)', 'hatshoN puja geet', 'Grimbuda', etc. e.g.: 'ori/arimoga geet'-Ori or Arimoga geet is associated with begging, i.e., a group of children go from house to house singing in order to collect remuneration or money. This kind of folk song is prevalent among Pati Rabha's. A part of Ori or arimoga geet is given below:-...