Some of the prominent art forms of the Darrang District are as follows - Bardhuliya
This art form of Darrang District is mainly performed by professional drummers (Dhuliya) in groups of 10 or more. Dhuliyas play Bardhol which is a cylindrical percussion instrument measuring about 1 metre in length and half metre in diameter. The Bardhuliyas specialize in exhibition of rhythmic turn over while playing the Bardhol. Bardhuliyas perform in religious occasions such as Holi in spring, Durga Puja (generally mid of October) and other ceremonies.
Oja-Pali is one of the unique forms of arts of Darrang District, which involves three main art forms, and these are Song, Dance and Drama. It is performed by a group of four or five men of whom the chief performer is called as 'Oja' who is supported by three to four Palis, and hence the name Oja-Pali has originated in this way. The only instrument played by Oja-Pali is Khutitaal (palm sized Cymbal). The performers wear long sleeved white gowns, silver jewelry etc. and they wear 'nupur' (bundle of tiny metallic percussions played by body vibrations). Interestingly, Oja-Pali is divided into two forms based on the occasion and style and the two forms are Byah Oja-Pali and Sukananni Oja-Pali.
The legends associated with this art form states that there were two very talented singers named Barbyahu and Sarubyahu during Koch Kingdom. They were often invited by Kings to sing various mythological and religious rhymes. With time, their style got popular among the people residing in the area. The central subject of Byah Oja-Pali is the epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. Unlike other Oja-Pali forms, the story is sung in pure classical style involving Ragas. A noticeable element of this form is the different Mudras (Gestures of hands & fingers). Dance is another key part of the performance. Moreover, to make the presentation interesting and make people understand, they perform humorous dialogues and narrations in between.
Sukananni Oja-Pali aims at presenting the tragic story of Behulaa-Lakhindar from Padma Purana among the masses. The easy yet high standard rhyme is accompanied by pleasant rhythm, tune and dance. Different Mudras are significant part of this form also. This art is performed normally during Manasa Puja (Worship of Goddess of Serpents). The Ojapalis first praise various gods and goddesses and then gradually move to the epic of Behula-Lakhindar. Though the presentation is targeted for the mass, it maintains high dignity and standard.
Followers of Srimanta Sankaradeva introduced this form of folk song. It is almost similar to the common Assamese Lokageet or folk-song. The content of these songs is mostly Hindu mythology.
Another popular kind of folk song of Darrang District is often called Mangaldaiya folksong. It was perhaps introduced in post Sankaradeva period. The content is spiritual and mystic, rather than religious, hence similar to Baul songs of West-Bengal. The instruments used are Khanjari (tiny hand held leather percussion, open at one end, with some metal discs attached), Dotara (string instrument), Tokaaree (single string instrument, the chamber made of matured water-gourd etc.
Deodhani dance is performed solo or in-group of three or four females essentially on worship of Goddess Manasa. As per mythology, Behulaa had to dance before the goddess Manasa to get back her husband's (Lakhindar) life. The dancer wears Mekhla traditional colourful clothes and jewelleries. They dance to the tune of Jaidhol (specific cylindrical percussion instrument) and Khutitaal, played by Palis. This dance form depicts the process of worship of Manasa.
It is another unique traditional folk art of Darrang District. Here, two to four performers play the Dhepadhol, which is specially made to generate a unique thud, and accompanied by four to six persons playing Taals (Cymbal). The team dances while playing the instruments. Dhepa dhuliyas perform in wedding ceremony or other such social occasions.
This ancient music form is at the verge of extinction. Similar to Shehnai of West-India, the Kaali is a beautiful bronze instrument. It is wide towards one end and the musician puts a mouthpiece on the other. It was very popular in local wedding ceremonies.
Nangelee songs are unique to Darrang which are couplets of very informal colloquial words, sung by Garakhiyaas (cowboys). While singing Nangelee songs, the performers get divided into two groups and enact a conflict between them over silly issues.
This dance is a vital part of the Bodo Tribe culture and depicts the beauty of nature. It has got 2 varieties and these are - Natural Bagurumba, which is performed with no song, and the Royal Bagurumba, which is accompanied by songs.
This is the dance of spring, similar to Bihu dance in theme. Young boys and girls perform it during April Month when the Baishagu Festival is held.
Kherai, which literally means to bow down in prayer, is a Bodo religious dance and is essential part of Bathow worship. Bathow is actually Lord Shiva. Usually villagers celebrate the Bathow worship once in a year where Kherai is performed in five stages. First, the place is made sacred for dancing followed by cleaning. Tender Banana leaf is kept over the place as a symbol of welcome. Finally the dancers dance covering the place and praise the Gods.
It is another reputed Bodo dance. It depicts the might of Goddess Water and Air.
This is a spectacular war dance of Bodos.
It is a very ancient Rabha dance of Rabha Tribe. The descendants of the royal kingdoms of Assam and others during the ritual perform it to bring peace for soul of the deceased.
This is the dance depicting romance, and performed in spring, by young boys and girls.
Performed by the male during the spring season to satisfy the Gods
It is closely associated with agriculture. This dance is performed by villagers at the beginning the month of May for better crops.
This dance belongs to Tea Tribe community of the Darrang District.
Thus, it can be said that all these forms of art aptly reflect the prominent tribal culture of Darrang District.