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Written by Vengatesh on July 2, 2020 Share on

Hornbill Festival in Nagaland: A great vacation idea

The Nagaland tribes celebrate their festivals with fervour and appreciation. Over 60 per cent of Nagaland’s population depends on agriculture, and so most of their festivals revolve around farming. They consider their festivals to be sacred and so it is essential to participate in those festivals. The Government organizes the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland each year in the first week of December to facilitate inter-tribal contact and to promote Nagaland’s cultural heritage. Organized by the Departments of State Tourism and Art & Culture, the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland exhibits a combination of cultural displays under one roof.

Hornbill Festival in Nagaland
Credits: Wikipedia

The success of the Hornbill Festival has boomed year on year. A clear depiction of that can be seen in the various newspapers which have spoken about the festival in abundance.

What to expect at the Hornbill Festival? 

This is a question that a lot of people ask. Sometimes, because there’s so much going on at the festival this very simple question is the hardest to answer. A line or two wouldn’t do this grand celebration any justice. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

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Hornbill Festival in Nagaland
Credits: Wikipedia

To put it very simply, imagine jumping from one tribe’s home to the next. Imagine seeing all of this on a much bigger and extravagant scale. All of that while holding on to your bamboo mugs, sipping the rice beer that’s brewed from these homes. The Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, also known as the Festival of Festivals, brings together all the seventeen Naga tribes, who come together to promote intercultural harmony.

The Venue

The venue is the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama below Mount Japfu, which is about 10 kilometres from Nagaland ‘s capital Kohima. Since 2000, the festival has evolved from being a cultural festival that showcases the diversity of the Naga tribe to a grand event that every North-Eastern state now attends. In trying to unify the seven sisters, this is certainly one very important milestone that has been achieved.

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Do not miss out on these at the festival!

1. Interacting with people from different tribes

Festivals are the best time for people to interact with. People are relaxed, seeking a good time, and this is also the best time to interact with people from all tribes. Who knows, you could get invited to an authentic home-cooked meal at one of the houses. Be humble, be respectful and you will definitely have a good time.

2. Understand Naga tribal Culture

Tribes on the day of the Hornbill festival in Nagaland
Credits: Wikipedia

Do not make the mistake of assuming that they are all same. They are distinctly different from each other they have a different lineage and different symbols inherited from their ancestors.

3. Sample the authentic local food

Nagaland Smoked Pork
Credits: Wikipedia

Leaf cooked rice cakes, yam patties, roasted millets, boiled naga beans, aromatic brown rice, slow-cooked pork with bamboo plus beef pickles, rice beer and piping hot Naga chilli chutneys, of course. The list keeps going on and you just can’t stop drooling at these scrumptious delicacies at the Hornbill Festival.

4. Sip on the forbidden drink

Credits: Wikipedia

In Nagaland winemaking is forbidden. It is much more like an underground operation. This really got me really excited after visiting Nashik’s vineyards recently. The elegant taste of the wines you can try in Nagaland will certainly pose as a tough competition to some of the most expensive bottles in India.

5. Shop for souvenirs

Shopping in Nagaland
Credits: Wikipedia

There’s a schedule handbook available at the entry area to help you keep track. The festival begins with an invocation to the Religious Deity with a tribal dance followed by the inauguration of some textile and handloom stalls, as well as contests such as horse riding. Participate in various competitions such as the Hornbill Photo Fest, craft space, portfolio of painting, and enjoy these amazing performances, sports, crafts, games, ceremonies and food fairs that are nothing short of incredible.

Duration Of The Festival

The Hornbill festival in Nagaland is held every year. Every year the festival opens during the first week of December and the celebrations stretch from December 1st to December 7th. The cultural event is organized by the Government of Nagaland.

Rituals Of The Festival

  1. There are religious and ceremonial parades.
  2. Every tribe has its own ceremonial performance, which is elegantly beautiful and delivered in an eccentric way.
  3. A closely-knit representation of Nagaland’s cultural heritage is an energetic traditional folk dance and musical performances that ensue during the gradual course of events.
  4. There are various sports, crafts, dance, fashion shows, and beauty contests. During the festival, Naga culture and ethnicity are performed and enjoyed to bring out the competitive spirit of humans in the Hornbill Festival.
  5. The festival is overflowing with vibrant food fairs, sports, songs, musical concerts and entertainment to keep the celebration ‘s lively spirits going.
  6. It shows traditional artwork, wood crafts, useful crafts, sculptures, drawings, and wood carvings. Such works of art are kept for sale in an exhibition. There are also herbal medicine stalls and flower show displays.
  7. There are various food stalls serving different food varieties including the delicious traditional Naga food.
  8. People indulge in traditional archery, indigenous games, Naga wrestling, athletic sports, and other activities.
  9. The Hornbill International Rock Festival is an important highlight of the festival. There are various local and international rock bands that play during the festival.
  10. The celebrations and concerts of the Hornbill Festival are carried on throughout the night.

How to reach

By Air

Kohima doesn’t have its own airport and the nearest is in Dimapur, 74 kilometres away, which operates domestic flights from Kolkata and Guwahati. First, foreign tourists would have to enter either Kolkata or international airports in Delhi and then take a flight to Dimapur. It is a two-hour cab ride from there to Kohima. Furthermore, there is the two-minute cab ride to Kisama for which the frequent availability makes it easy to hire a taxi. Otherwise, the airport is also a 30-minute helicopter ride away.

By Train

Kohima doesn’t have a Railway station. The nearest is in Dimapur, which has direct links to Kolkata and Guwahati. Of course, the journey is very picturesque as every North Eastern state is, so you wouldn’t get tired of the witnessing the beauty that unfolds in front of you.

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