Tribals in India
Table of contents:
- Policies on Scheduled Tribes
- Healthcare Challenges
- The North Eastern Milieu
- Tribals in Gujarat
- Tribal Songs of Chhattisgarh
- Rich Heritage of Gonds
- Tribals in Jharkhand
- Sports in Tribal-dominated Areas
- Indigenous Culture
1. Policies on Scheduled Tribes
The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that certain communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness on account of the primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation. In order to uplift such communities, a provision was made in the Constitution of India, in the form of reservation for them in education, employment and in the governing bodies, as Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Provisions for the Upliftment of Scheduled Tribes:
1) Constitutional Provisions:
Definition and the list:
- The Constitution of India, Article 366 (25) defines Scheduled Tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) for the purposes of this Constitution”.
- Article 342 states that the President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.
- Further, Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued by the President any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community.
- There are over 700 tribes which have been notified. The largest number of tribal communities (62) are found in Odisha. No Tribe was identified in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Pondicherry.
FRs and DPSP:
- Fundamental Rights enshrined in articles 15 and 16 empowered the Government for making special provisions for the Scheduled Tribes in education and public employment.
- DPSP: Article 46 of the Constitution provides that “the State shall promote with special care, the educational and economic interest of the weaker section of the people, and, in particular, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”.
Constitutional Body: National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
- NCST was set up with effect from 19th February 2004 by amending Article 338 and by inserting a new article 338A in the Constitution through the 89th Constitution Amendment Act, 2003. Hence, it is a constitutional body.
- Article 338A inter-alia gives powers to the NCST to oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to STs under the Constitution or under any other law for time being in force or under any other order to the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
- It consists of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and 3 other Members who are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
- Steps Taken By NCST:
- NCST has identified ten areas for policy implementation related to the tribal communities. This includes – forest rights R&R, mining-related issues, financial issues and implementation of development schemes, atrocities, grievances, inclusion and exclusion, health and nutrition, education, legal and constitutional issues, and Scheduled Tribes Component in welfare schemes.
- Grievance Redressal
- NCST has played a key role in the advancement and in securing of the rights of STS in India.
- NCST has launched an e-portal www.ncstgrams.gov.in for the public to register their complaints.
- The Commission is committed to associating itself with the planning process to fulfil the responsibility entrusted by the constitution of India.
2) Legal Provisions:
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989:
- SC ST Act 1989 is an Act of Parliament enacted to prohibit discrimination against SC & ST community members and prevent atrocities against them.
- The Act is also a recognition of the depressing reality that despite undertaking several measures, the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes continue to be subjected to various atrocities at the hands of upper castes.
- The Act has been enacted keeping in view the express constitutional safeguards enumerated in Articles 15 (Prohibition of Discrimination), 17 (Abolition of Untouchability) and 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty) of the Constitution, with a twin-fold objective of protecting the members of these vulnerable communities as well as to provide relief and rehabilitation to the victims of caste-based atrocities.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (Forest Rights Act):
- FRA enacted in 2006 recognises the rights of forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources on which these communities were dependent for a variety of needs, including livelihood, habitation and other socio-cultural needs.
- It recognizes and vests the forest rights and occupation in Forest land in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
- It strengthens the conservation regime of the forests while ensuring the livelihood and food security of the FDST and OTFD.
- The Gram Sabha is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of Individual Forest Rights (IFR) or Community Forest Rights (CFR) or both that may be given to FDST and OTFD.
1) A tribal person is usually not a hitagraahi, i.e., a self-centred or individualistic one; he/she is generally an aparmaarthi (altruist). The tribal people accord priority to the community before pursuing individual gains.
2. Healthcare Challenges
- The United Nation's State of the World's Indigenous Peoples Report states that “for indigenous peoples, health is equivalent to the harmonious co-existence of human beings with nature, with themselves and with others, aimed at integral well-being, in spiritual, individual, and social wholeness and tranquillity.
- It goes on to declare that when it comes to appropriate health systems for the indigenous context, models of healthcare must take into account the indigenous concept of health and preserve and strengthen indigenous health systems as a strategy to increase access and coverage of health care.
- The report further said that it is necessary to ensure that the human resources respond to the epidemiological profile and socio-cultural context of indigenous communities.
- In India, region to region, one tribal community to another, we recognise challenges both in terms of reaching care and in moving beyond disease-centred healthcare to integrated approaches to health and development of the tribal people.
- Inadequate field data:
- While the distinct socio-cultural-political context of each tribe dictates a focused understanding of their health status and planning for appropriate health services, in India, little data is available to allow such reflection.
- As a result, various health problems and health system deficiencies in reaching tribal people remain hidden for many years till the census or national survey reveals the significant gaps.
- Poor research methodologies:
- Research among tribal populations in India is often limited to cross-sectional surveys focusing on specific diseases like malaria, pregnancy and related outcomes.
- It seldom focuses on the larger socio-political issues that underlie the poor reach and access to health services for many tribal people.
- Currently, the efforts of gathering and visualising information on tribal health is undertaken by government task forces like the Tribal Health Report published by the expert committee in 2018, or through local civil society.
- These surveys generally do not attempt to answer the 'why' or 'how' questions related to the health of tribal people in a particular region or landscape. The impact of various critical social determinants of health is often ignored.
- Severe deficiencies in access to antenatal, delivery and postnatal services across all tribal communities are still there. Appropriate treatment for childhood illnesses in tribal children is poor.
- Infant mortalities and under-five mortalities are higher among tribal children in most states.
- Food security schemes have lesser coverage and poor quality in most tribal areas. Incidences of infectious diseases such as malaria are more frequent and have higher morbidity and mortality in most tribal areas.
- Disease surveillance and epidemiological data on infectious diseases are inadequate. Focus on infectious diseases control in tribal areas has not been accompanied by a systematic approach to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in tribal areas.
- A health system lens as advocated by the WHO helps us provide an understanding of the health system in terms of financing, resource utilisation, and governance. However, there is a need to explore the inter-linkages of health with other dimensions of human development like education, land tenure, etc.
- Tribal health services are severely underfinanced. There is a disproportionate shortage of health workers in tribal areas; moreover, tribal representation in the health workforce is considerably inadequate.
- Tribal health has no special or additional focus in the overall national and State health plans thereby it finds no explicit focus in the corresponding policies and programmes.
Need for a Special Focus:
- A special approach towards our tribal people, especially their health is needed. Such a focus needs to emerge from the grassroots, meaning that districts and local bodies at block levels ought to be sensitised.
3. The North Eastern Milieu
- Tribal communities in India inhabit all parts of the country except the States of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, and the Union Territories of Chandigarh and Puducherry. They constitute 8.6 per cent of India's total population and are classified into about seven hundred communities which include both 'major tribes' and 'sub-tribes.
- Around 12 per cent of the total tribal population in India lives in the North Eastern States. But unlike the central Indian States, where the tribal population is a minority, tribal communities constitute more than eighty percent of the State population in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
Ecology and Inhabitants:
- NER has remained a backward and less-developed region of the Indian subcontinent though it covers 7.9 percent geographical area of the country.
- The North Eastern tribal economies are distant and remote from the mainstream national economy. Agriculture is the main occupation and source of livelihood for the farmers.
- Two distinct types of agricultural practice in NER may be observed (i) settled agriculture in the plains, valleys and gentler slopes and (ii) slash and burn cultivation (called jhum cultivation) elsewhere.
- In the lowland areas of the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys, three agricultural systems of rice are followed, namely Sali kheti, Ahu kheti, and Bao kheti.
Culture and Tradition:
- North East can be regarded as a repository of traditional knowledge systems.
- On the basis of one or the other factor like socio-cultural similarity, linguistic affinity, ethnic affiliation and common territory, these tribal communities may conveniently be put under certain groups like the Boro, the Khasi, the Naga, the Lushei Kuki, the Arunachali and others.
- Each society has its own cultural tradition, social system, set of values, customs and different colourful modes of festivities which are mostly related to agriculture.
- Few of them may be mentioned as:
- In Arunachal Pradesh: Moh-Mol (Tangsa), Mopin & Solung (Adi), Oriah (Wancho), Nyokum (Nyishi), Reh (Mishmi), Lossar (Monpa), Boori-Boot (Hill Miris);
- In Assam – Magh Bihu, Bohag Bihu, Ali-Ai-Ligang (Mishing), Baikho (Rabha) and Baishagu (Dimasa);
- In Nagaland: Moatsu (Ao), Ngada (Rengma), Monyu (Phom), Naknyulum (Chang), Sekrenyi (Angami) and Suhkruhnye (Chakhensang);
- In Manipur: Lai Haraoba dance, Thabal Chongba dance and Raslila and others;
- In Mizoram – Chapchar Kut, Mim Kut and Cheraw (the Bamboo Dance);
- In Tripura – Kharchi Puja, Garia Puja, Ker Puja and others
- In Meghalaya – Wangala Festival (Garo), Shad Suk Mynsiem (Khasi) and Behdienkhlam (Jaintia).
- Recent data from standard sample surveys find that women's participation in decision-making was higher even than in the Southern States. As per the 2011 Census, the sex ratio is highest in Manipur (992), followed by Meghalaya (989) and Mizoram (976), and lowest in Sikkim (890).
4. Tribals in Gujarat
- As per the 2011 Census, the total population in Gujarat was 604.39 lakh out of which the tribal population accounts for 14.76%. There are 26 Scheduled Tribe groups in the State. Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in the literacy rate for the tribal communities.
- There are 26 Scheduled Tribe groups in the State. The major tribal communities are Bhil, Garasia and Dholi Bhils; Talavia, Halpati; Dhodia; Rathwa; Naikda or Nayaka and Gamit, Gamata. Tribal communities including Kathodi, Padhar, Siddi, Kolgha, and Kotwalia belong to the Primitive Tribal Groups.
Tribals of Gujarat:
- Bhil: The word Bhil comes from the Dravidian word “billu” which means bow to shoot arrows. The Bhils have been carrying arrows with them since ancient times.
- Warli: Warli comes from the word “waral” which means a small piece of land. The community is famous for their Warli paintings which are made on the walls of dung with soaked rice water, using acacia and bamboo sticks.
- Gond: Gond people speak Gondi dialects which are derived from a mix of Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. It could therefore be presumed that they might have come from South India. A Gond dynasty is said to have ruled for several centuries in the Chandama region.
- Rathwa: Rathwas came from Alirajpur near Madhya Pradesh. Farming, animal husbandry, poultry farming, and forestry are their main occupations.
- Dhodia: This tribe is found in the Bang, Naysari, Surat, Valsad, and Tapi districts of Gujarat. In the Bhili dialect, the roof is called Dhuda and its inhabitants are known as Dhodia.
- Chaudhri: Chaudhri community living in the districts of South Gujarat considers itself to be of Rajput descent.
- Patelia: After the fall of Patai Rawal Pavagadh, those Rajputs and Kshatriyas who settled in different forest areas were known as Patelia.
- Gamit: The Bhils who settled in the village, in one place are considered to be called Gamit.
- Patelia: After the fall of Patai Rawal in Pavagadh, those Rajputs and Kshatriyas who settled in different forest areas of Dahod, Limkheda, Santrampur, etc., were known as Patelia. They became leaders of the village and were managing village affairs, thus becoming 'Patel' of a village. The 'Patel' in the long run was converted into 'Patelia'. The whole tribe is now known as 'Patelia’.
- Pomla: Based on the Census of Baroda, it can be said that this tribe might have migrated from Madras (Tamil Nadu) to this place about 200 years ago.
There are 5 PVTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) in Gujrat:
- Siddi: Siddis reside across the many States of India, especially in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Kerala. Besides, they are also based in Karnataka. The African tribe of Anglo-Indian descent who migrated and settled in urban and rural areas of other Indian States are Siddis. They are popularly known for their Dhamal Dance.
- Padhar: They live in houses made of clay, grass, and wood known as kuba.
- Kotwalia: Since bamboo is a traditional occupation, it is considered as kalpavriksha.
- Kathodi: Kathodi are also known as Katkari. This name has been derived from their occupation of preparing Catechu. Kathodis believe themselves to be heirs of the deity Hanuman.
- Kolgha: It is a primitive tribal district of South Gujarat.
- Pithora and Warli Paintings:
- The Rathwa tribes of Central Gujarat have their bamboo walls plastered with clay and the local deity. Pithoradev is painted on the wall to celebrate a joyous occasion.
- Paintings of Warlis of South Gujarat are ritual decorations during weddings. The village women draw patterns on the walls of the bride's house with rice powder after clay-plastering.
- Tribal Healing System- Bhagat Bhava: They play an important part in the religion, health and society of the tribals.
5. Tribal Songs of Chhattisgarh
- Traditional songs and music form the identity of the tribal culture. They reflect their natural spirit, unconditional love, and innate energy at every stage of their life.
- Initially, the tribal songs in their dialects reverberated with the rebellion of their area, and then with the movement that was prevalent in the country. These tribal songs, on one hand, glorified their hero and on the other, inspired their fellow tribesmen to participate in the freedom struggle.
- The national awareness of the tribal communities emerges in the songs of different dialects- Halbi, Bhatri, Muria, Gondi, Oraon, Korku, Baiga, etc.
Famous tribal songs and dialects:
- Bhumkal Songs: these songs are in Bhatri Dialect which is considered one of the most illustrative tribal dialects. There are songs on Veer Narayan Singh and the Bhumkal rebellion.
- Oroan Song: Oraon is a dominant tribe in the north of Chhattisgarh and the songs composed in the Oraon dialect motivated the national movement of the entire region.
- Halbi Song: The songs of the Halba tribe are said to be a great treasure of the tribal folk tradition. It describes the freedom struggle of the country.
- Gondi Songs: In Chhattisgarh, the Gond tribe has been predominant and many songs composed in their Gondi dialect became a part of community life in the tribal area.
- Baiga Song: The Baiga tribe, living in the central parts of Chhattisgarh, is a unique tribe which has its own distinct cultural identity and its folk songs and dances are highly appreciated.
6. Rich Heritage of Gonds
- According to the 2011 Census, the tribals account for 109 million and represent 8.6 percent of the country's total population.
- The Gonds are the largest in number among other tribes of the country. There are many sub-tribes under the Gonds, but they share common ethnic origins.
- It is believed that the name 'Gond' was given to them by other communities. They do not call themselves by that name, instead, they were called and still call themselves 'Koi' or 'Koithur'.
Various Facets of Gonds Tribe:
- Social Life: The social structure of the Gonds is one of the oldest and most unique systems established by their chief preceptor Pahandi Pari Kupar Lingo.
- Family: The Gond family is the smallest social unit. An aggregate of families constitutes the clan. The Gond family is patrilineal and patrilocal.
- Pari (Clan): Gonds use the term 'pari' to express their group. The clan among the Gonds is a unilateral group consisting of family members who bear the same clan name.
- Status of Women: In a customary Gond society, most of the domestic work is centred around a woman. A woman is excluded from certain ritual observances.
- Marriage: Among the Gonds, marriage is forbidden between blood relatives. The Raj Gonds, the ruling Gonds, are married according to Hindu customs, while in the common Gonds, the marriage ceremonies are conducted by doshi, or Baiga. Widow marriage is allowed in the Gond society.
- Religious Life: The Gonds are firm believers in omens and myths. The diviner is called by different names among different sub-groups of Gonds. He is called Pujar, Bhagat, Baiga, Gunia, or Panda, etc.
- Festivals: There are several religious festivals of the Gonds such as Akhari, Jiwati, Pola, Diwali Nawo tindana, Dussera, and Phag or Shimga. Many of these are connected with the agricultural season.
- Cultural Aspects: The Gonds had evolved their own cultural practices in the process of their social formation without much interaction with the other culture.
- Songs & Dance: The main dances are Karma, Ri-na, Ri-lo, Re-la, Sela Danda (stick), Mandari, Hulki, and Suwa, etc. These songs and dances are accompanied by various musical instruments like drums, kikir, flute, cymbals and others.
- Art & Craft: The Gonds are experts in arts and crafts. They also have expertise in beautiful wall paintings and floral designs that depict geometric designs and stylistic figures of plants and animals on the walls of their houses. The geometric and symbolic designs carved on walls and doors, on combs and tobacco-case are thousands of years old, going back to the ancient civilisation of the Indus Valley.
- Gotul: The traditional Gotul institutions of the Gonds used to inculcate a sense of discipline and cooperative endeavour among its members.
- Gondi Language: The language spoken by the Gonds in their daily life, Gondi, a pre-Dravidian language.
7. Tribals in Jharkhand
- The State may be merely two decades old, but Jharkhand, the land of the Chhotanagpur plateau, has been there forever. An early mention of the term 'Jharkhand' was found in the Sanskrit scriptures of India.
- Jharkhand was also shown by Abul Fazl in his Ain-i-Akbari, as the land between present Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Interestingly, the Britishers never used the term 'Jharkhand' in administrative parlance.
Important tribals in Jharkhand:
- Oraons: are the most populous tribal groups in north-east India. Oraons are considered to be related to proto-Australoids and have been inhabiting the land since the pre-Dravidian era.
- Santhals: have the most primitive caste system among the oldest tribes. They are also one of the largest tribal groups in India.
- Munda: is an agriculturist tribal group. Many of the agricultural implements mentioned in Vedic literature such as langala, or hula (plough) and kuddala (spade), are of the etymological origin of the Munda tribe.
Challenges faced by the tribals in Jharkhand:
- According to NFHS-5, the socio-economic condition of families of STs in Jharkhand is not at par with that of other families and there is a need for critical attention of the government for furthering the welfare of the STs of Jharkhand.
- Prevalence of Naxalism and law and order problems are also crucial challenges to tribals in Jharkhand.
- Malnutrition and undernourishment are also major causes of concern with respect to tribal children in Jharkhand.
Central Assistance for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes
The Government presently makes the bulk of its contribution for ST welfare through Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) whereby many Ministries under Gol make fund provisions exclusively for tribal welfare.
Scheduled Tribe Component or Development Action Plan for STs (STC or DAPST):
Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Plan or Tribal Sub-Scheme of States:
Grant-in-aid under Article 275(1):
Scholarship and Fellowship schemes:
Special Fund for Protection of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups:
National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation:
8. Sports in Tribal-dominated Areas
- In recent years, many sports players have emerged from the tribal-dominated belts such as Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and the North Eastern States who have brought laurels to the country in both national and International level competitions.
- These players come from extreme geographical conditions and have relatively limited availability of world-class sports facilities.
- Sports such as hockey, archery, athletics, wrestling, kho-kho, kabaddi, volleyball, swimming, canoeing-kayaking, taekwondo, judo, shooting and horse riding are extremely famous among tribals.
- Hockey: Jaipal Singh Munda, Sylvanus Dung Dung, Birendra Lakra, Beauty Dungdung, Pramodini Lakra, Nikki Pradhan, Salim Tete and Mahima Tete are well-known hockey players from tribal backgrounds.
- Archery: Deepika Kumari who became the world’s number one archer and is also a Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee is from a tribal-dominated area.
- Garo Ho, Rimil Buriuli, Purmina Mohato, and Laxmirani Majhi are other noted Indian archers from tribal-dominated areas.
Sports Initiatives in India:
- Khelo India: Central government has started ‘Khelo India’ games at the school and university levels to provide an opportunity for the identification of sporting talent at a young age. They are all Indian sporting events and a chance for young athletes to make a mark on the national stage.
- Under the Chhattisgarh Sports Policy 2017, emphasis has been laid on adopting a strategic approach to encourage and develop various sporting activities and players in Chhattisgarh, under which, the identification of outstanding and capable players in various sports in all the districts of the State is included.
- In Madhya Pradesh, efforts are being made at the government level to promote sports talent in tribal-dominated areas.
Stories of sports talent emerging from the tribal-dominated areas are inspiring and the Governments are making sustained efforts to identify talents from these belts and provide them with adequate training, equipment and facilities.
9. Indigenous Culture
- Indigenous communities around the world are bearers of strong traditional culture, art, craft and knowledge of the environment.
- Recognizing their skills to sustainably use local, cultural and natural resources forging a balanced nature-culture relationship, in 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- This Declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, and elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples.
- It is estimated that there are more than 476 million indigenous people in the world, spread across 90 countries and representing 5000 different cultures. They make up 6.2 percent of the global population and live in all geographic regions.
- According to a World Bank report, “Indigenous Peoples own, occupy, or use a quarter of the world’s surface area, they safeguard 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. They hold vital ancestral knowledge and expertise on how to adapt, mitigate, and reduce climate and disaster risks.”
The Adis of Arunachal Pradesh:
- The Adis constitute one of the numerous indigenous communities of Arunachal Pradesh. Adis speak the Sino- Tibetan language.
- They are traditionally nature worshippers and follow the faith of Donyi-Polo. All their resources come from the forests which they also protect as their life source.
- Adis live in typical raised houses which are usually rectangular and built on stilts. These traditional houses are constructed with different types of bamboo, woods, canes, leaves, etc., and no nails are used in their construction.
The Tangsas of Arunachal Pradesh:
- The Tangsa community inhabit the Changlang district of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, located in the lap of Patkai hills.
- One of the most fascinating practices that they actively continue to date is that of indigenous bamboo tea-making. The Tangsas along with the Singphos are believed to be the original tea-makers in India, much before the British introduced it commercially.
- The staple diet of Tangsas and their traditional cuisine consisting of rice, meat, and fish are all cooked in bamboo tubes directly placed on the fire.
The Kalbelias of Rajasthan:
- Kalbelia is a unique community of traditional snake charmers by profession. They belong to the family of Navnaths, a nomadic community from the Yogi sect.
- The masters or Gurus of Kalbelia song, music and dance, who live in Chopasni are Kalunath Kalbelia, Appanath Kalbelia, Asha Sapera, Suwa Devi, and Samda Sapera. Kalunath is considered a living legend of this folk-art form.
- Since the enactment of the Wildlife Act of 1972 and the subsequent ban on snake handling, the Kalbelias have lost their traditional profession and pursued their performing art for their livelihoods.
- The striking features of their gorgeous costumes with swirling movements of the dancers and snake-like movements make Kalbelia one of the most stunning folk dance forms.
- Kalbelia is inscribed in the UNESCO 2003 Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Rajbanshis of West Bengal:
- Rajbongshi is an indigenous community living in West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and various North Eastern parts of India.
- Rajbongshis have a diverse repertoire of indigenous art forms such as Bamboo and Dhokra crafts, performing arts like Gomira Dance (Mukha Nach) and the satirical folk drama, Khon.
- Gomira dance, locally known as Mukha Nach, is a form of ritualistic dance or musical folk theatre, practised by this community by putting on Gomira wooden masks of different forms of deities.
- Every village organises at least one Gomira dance festival customarily during the months of Chaitra-Ashad (April-July), at a central location, which is usually the village temple. Gomira dance is mainly organised to appease the village deity, Goddess Chandi, and usher in her blessings.
- Dhokra or jute mat weaving is an indigenous tradition practised by Rajbongshi women.
- The Rajbongshi community also practises a satirical improvisational folk drama called Khon, which is believed to be a nearly 200 years old traditional art form. Stories are based on local incidents which are dramatised with a comical style of presentation. Khon songs are said to have evolved from Ramayana songs. The uniqueness of Khon is that there is usually no pre-written script. The art form has been integral to local festivals and rituals.