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Hornbill Festival of Nagaland

The land of festivals, ‘Nagaland’ is a secluded and serene state tucked away in the north-eastern part of our country.

With lush green hills, bright valleys and whispers of wind all you can expect is a soul cleansing experience where you can only capture the beauty through your eyes because photographs cannot do any justice to this real enchanting beauty.

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland
Nagaland – Gateway to the Unexplored Heaven

Not only the mesmerizing beauty but the state has managed to preserve their age old customs and traditions which is the reason why tourists turn up to this place and get awarded with unexpected surprises.

Inhabited by the tribes, Nagaland can be named as a colourful state with colourful costumes, lip-smacking cuisine, peaceful environment, pleasing weather, traditional heritage villages, tribal dance forms and lyrical songs which is the foundation and pride of these tribes.

What is more warm and welcoming are the smiles on the faces of the tribes, which will never makes you feel like you away from home. They believe in welcoming each guest with open arms who are curious and want to go in-depth about their rich culture and their efforts to keep this legacy going for the coming generations.

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland
Source: The Incredible North East

Nagaland – The Land of Festivals

As I mentioned above, it is known as the ‘Land of Festivals’, one such festival is the famous ‘Hornbill Festival’.

The meaning of Hornbill Festival

The Government of Nagaland organizes the Hornbill festival every year on the first week of December with an aim of encouraging inter-tribal interactions as Nagaland is home to 16 indigenous tribes and promotes their rich cultural heritage which they are very proud of and as a way of preserving their cultural heritage and keep this legacy going for coming generations.

The Hornbill festival is known as the ‘Festival of Festivals’.

The launch of Hornbill Festival

Hornbill festival was launched in the year 2000 by the Government of Nagaland. In these 19 years, Hornbill has witnessed many tourists from around the world who might have never witnessed so many colours, songs and enthusiasm under one roof. And also it has broken all its previous record with 2.54 lakh tourists witnessing it in the year 2019.

Kisama – The Naga Heritage village

The Hornbill festival is held at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is 12 km from the capital city of Kohima.

The meaning of Hornbill Festival
Kisama – The Naga Heritage Village

All the 16 tribes namely – Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Dimasa, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Kuki, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengama, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchunger and Zeliang, come together and take part in this festival collectively.

The aim they have is to revive and protect their ancient culture which is the gift of their ancestors and carrying it forward to their next generations. They take a pride in displaying its extravaganza and traditions in the most entertaining and colourful manner.

Why the name ‘Hornbill’?

The festival is named after the exotic bird – Hornbill, as it is the the subject of folklore in their region. Hornbill festival as believed began in 2000 CE with a clear intention of promoting all the 16 indigenous tribes and also showcasing their culture and the products related to it to the world.

Events in the Hornbill Festival

If you are someone who enjoys indulging in the rich culture and heritage with ancient importance which is yet not commercialised and is completely raw, then Hornbill festival is perfect for you.

You cannot expect a single dull moment in this week long celebrations as the whole atmosphere and surroundings is bright, with the sounds of happiness and maybe you may never get a chance to witness so many happy souls at one place.

Events in the Hornbill Festival
Hornbill Festival – Energy is in the air and everywhere

Each tribe prepares and delivers religious and ceremonial parades in their own ceremonial manner displayed elegantly and executed to the perfection. Each parade is different from the other tribe but with the same energy, happiness and the feeling of unity.

Events in the Hornbill Festival
Ceremonial Parade – Unique and Pride of the Tribe

The traditional folk dances and musical performances are delivered in such a way that you cannot stop yourself from grooving to their beats. Again, these are the songs which they have got from their ancestors and with each rhythm touching your ears; you are on a way to discover something undiscovered about each tribe.

Events in the Hornbill Festival
Witness the authentic folk dance of each tribe (Source-Trodly)

Various sports, crafts, fashion shows and beauty competitions are  held adding a slight modern twist but definitely does not take away the authenticity of the festival ensuring the right amount of balance and of course the healthy competition.

Authentic tribal delicacy – an important part of their culture and festival

The festival even highlights various food fairs which displays signature dishes from each tribe and also be ready to test your spice tolerance as Nagaland is known for high spice levels in almost every dish.

Events in the Hornbill Festival

The paintings displayed during Hornbill Festival

Traditional art work, wood and handicrafts, sculptures, paintings and wood carvings are displayed which gives an insight into the art and craft aspect of Nagaland. They are well known for their crafts and every tourist makes sure to carry at least one speciality of it as a souvenir, maybe as a token of remembrance.

Hornbill Festival
Source: the morung express

You even have displays of different flower shows which are also a major part of the festival along with herbal medicine stalls as Nagaland has plants and herbs known to have medicinal properties which can cure diseases in a natural and herbal way. The tribes there of course use these herbs and also have an in-depth knowledge about each herb.

People who are more inclined towards sports can indulge in Naga wrestling, indigenous games and other athletic sports creating a competitive spirit.

Hornbill Music Festival – Artists from around the world perform in India’s biggest music festival

The major highlight of the festival is the ‘Hornbill Music Festival’ where various local and international artists perform at Kohima and Dimapur. The celebrations and concerts are carried out the whole night making Nagaland look like a million of stars in a dark sky.

Hornbill Music Festival

Want to witness something as exciting as this?

If you are a true travel junkie by heart, this must be on your bucket list. When are you packing your bags for a magical experience?

Written by Sharmila Feroz

Sharmila Feroz is a graduate of versatile vocations who grew up in a military household which led her to travel to interesting and beautiful parts of the country. Penning those travel experiences paved her way into writing about ethnic lifestyle and cultural celebrations in India.

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