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Hornbill Tribal Festival, Nagaland

The Nagas are universally admired for their rich repertory of folk dances and songs. In spite of the tremendous advance of modernity into their lives, the Naga people have a penchant for vibrant dances and songs praising the brave deeds of ancient warriors and folk heroes, love songs that immortalize tragic love stories, gospel songs and folk tunes. The tribes of Nagaland celebrate their festivals with appreciation and fervor.

Organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, Hornbill Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof. This festival also known as 'Festival of Festivals' usually takes place every year in a place called Kisama, which is about 12 km from Kohima, during the first week of December. During this festive period, the Gods are conciliated with animal sacrifices by the head of the village, for a bountiful harvest, either before sowing or on the eve of the harvest.

Nagaland is also known as the land of festivals since each of the tribes celebrates its personalized festivals with utter dedication and reverence. Some of the important festivals celebrated here are: Tsukhenyie by the Chakhesangs in January, Mimkut by the Kukis in January, Bushu by the Kacharis in January, Sekrenyi by the Angamis in February, Aoling by the Konyaks in April, Moatsu by the Aos in May, Tuluni by the Sumis in July, Nyaknylum by the Changs in July, TokhuEmong by the Lothas in November and Yemshe by the Pochurys in October. The Hornbill Tribal Festival distinguished as the 'Festival of Festivals' is rejoiced each year in the month of December with an objective to revive, protect and preserve the richness of the Naga Heritage. This cultural extravaganza conjoins the 16 untamed tribes of Nagaland and encourages inter-tribal relations.

Moreover, the Nagas consider their festivals very sacred and so participation in these festivals is mandatory for all. For visitors it means a closer understanding of the people and culture of Nagaland, and an opportunity to experience the food, songs, dances and customs of this State. Each of the 16 major tribes and many sub-tribes in the State has its own way of maintaining its distinctive cultural traditions and customs, through various forms of performing arts, which are an integral part of numerous Naga festivals. These tribal communities which dwell in the hills can be easily identified and distinguished by their vibrant, colorful and intricately designed costumes, jewelry and beads that its members wear. The traditional ceremonial attire of each tribe is distinct and unique. There are the multi-colored spears tastefully decorated with dyed goat's hair, the headgear made of finely woven bamboo interlaced with orchid stems and adorned with wild boar's teeth and hornbill's feathers, and ivory armlets. Folklore says that warriors in olden times had to prove their valor and mettle before donning this attire.

This Festival offers a tribute to the most admired bird "Hornbill" in terms of alertness and grandeur. The social and cultural life of the Nagas is closely identified with this Majestic Bird and is reflected in their tribal folklores, dance forms and songs. This week long festival gives a traveler an amazing opportunity to experience a plethora of cultural food, handicrafts, songs, dances and customs of Nagaland, one of the seven sisters of the North Eastern region of India. Some of the noticeable attractions in the festival are the Traditional Archery, Indigenous Games, Naga wrestling, Art & Craft, Cultural Medley of songs & dances, and the Traditional Naga Morung's Exhibition.

The Hornbill festival gives you a unique opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage, diversity, traditions and lifestyle of the untamed tribes of Nagaland. A majority of the total population of Nagaland thrives on agriculture and hence most of their festivals revolve around agriculture. In addition, one gets an opportunity to visit the Herbal Medicine Stalls, Food Stalls, Flower shows, Beauty Contest, Fashion shows and Musical concert. The traditional arts, paintings, sculptures and wood carvings by the modern Naga artists which are showcased here add to the allure and fascination of this state.

A must visit to this elaborate Festival, named after the Indian Hornbill to relish the flavor and cultural fiesta….much to the awe of one and all!!