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Date of Publish: 2015-12-10

Nagaland, home to India’s several indigenous tribes situated at the border of India and Myanmar is often referred to as the ‘Land of Festivals’. Endowed with 16 major tribes which include Ao, Angami, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Chakhesang, Khiamniungan, Dimasa-kachari, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchunger, Thadou, Kuki, Zeliang and Pochury as well as many sub-tribes.

Most of the 16 major tribes depend on agriculture which is why most of the festivals are Agri-based. Almost round the year, these indigenous festivals are celebrated in different parts of Nagaland. As a tourist, it becomes very difficult to immerse oneself into each of these festivals as the time of the celebration is quite different in addition to the communication problem in reaching the villages. That’s why the Art and Culture Department of Nagaland decided to assemble the varied culture of Nagaland into one cultural extravaganza under one roof which came to be known as ‘’Hornbill Festival’’, celebrated every year from December 1 to 10 at Naga heritage village, Kisama.

Kisama is  11kms off the capital city of Kohima. Numerous ‘Zonal Taxi’ runs from Kohima to Kisama all through the day. One can reach Kohima from Dimapur which is situated around 75kms by a shared taxi which will take around two and half hours. Dimapur is connected with rail, airport and roadways from the all the major cities of the country. The name ‘Hornbill Festival’ refers to one of India’s finest but endangered bird, the great Indian hornbill found in the deep forest of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Apart from the cultural fiesta and different delicacies of tribes, Hornbill showcases aboriginal tribal ‘Morungs’, traditional games and sports, art and crafts, bamboo festival. One of the main attractions of Hornbill festival is the annual Hornbill Rock Contest at Hockey ground, Indira Gandhi stadium in Kohima which attracts India’s finest rock bands who battle it out in Kohima to win the coveted prize of Hornbill Rock Contest and impressive prize money of 10Lakhs rupees along with numerous tempting offers. For years, Hornbill Rock Contest has been the platform for many Indian rock bands which later went on to become a craze in the musical scene.

The main aim and objective of celebrating ‘Hornbill Festival’ is to bring together all the indigenous tribes of Nagaland under one name that may have been segregated from each other from ancient times because of demographics and cultures. This festival truly showcases the unity of the tribes and proves aptly why Hornbill Festival is often termed as the ‘Festival of Festivals’.

Photo and text - Prabir Kumar Talukdar

( Prabir Kumar Talukdar is a freelance journalist. He travels around the country to capture stories. He can be reached at prabir008@gmail.com. His mobile no is  73995-02650 )

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