Hornbill Festival in Nagaland
Nagaland is a beautiful hill state in North-East India. Its culture is very different from other northern states. If anyone really needs to know the culture and diversity of the region, Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival is the one to explore and know about the community which is majorly dependent on agriculture. The celebration usually happens from 1st to 10th December every year in Kisama , a heritage village 12kms away from Kohima. Nowdays the festival is organized by the Government of Nagaland, yet, major contribution and participation in the festival is of folks and local cooperatives. It becomes a spectacle of colours and beats as all the sixteen recognised Naga tribes gather in the festival to showcase their cultural dances, music, crafts and techniques.
Great Hornbill bird
Great Hornbill bird is considered as an important part in the Naga culture. Naga People pay tribute to this magnificent bird at the time of the festival and so is the name Hornbill Festival . This bird is found in the Naga jungles, feeds on fruits and berries and has a lifespan of over 50 years. The bird holds a prominent feature in Naga folklores, songs, tales and costumes. Traditional headgear and yoke worn during the festival is decorated with feathers and beak of male Great Hornbill.
Kisama heritage village is the permanent centre for exhibition during this ten day festivity that mainly comprises of showcasing of paintings, bamboo products, utensils, dancing masks, handloom fabrics, foods, drinks, jewels and local arts and crafts by the Naga People. Food stalls are heaven for non-vegetarian enthusiasts. Pork and beef is staple served in most Morung restaurants. The greens are bamboo shoots and yam leaves, aside with Zutho or rice beer.
Competitions are the biggest thrill of this festival. Bhoot-Jholokia-chilli eating competition, Kohima Downhill cycle race, hunting down piglet, kids competition, climbing bamboo pole that is oiled and made slippery, music competition, war sports and other eating competitions keep the crowd engaged.
During the 10 day long festival the musical performances are out of ordinary. Artists from Nepal, Bhutan, Australia, and major cities of India arrive here to make an impression of their band. The dances performed are mainly based on war themes. Performers are mostly young Nagas, dressed in their traditional costumes, which changes from tribe to tribe. The common element among them is that most of their headgears are adorned with hornbill beaks and feather. As the bird is now considered nearly threatened, there is a strict ban on its killing, so the original beaks are replaced by their plastic replicas in new wearable. These tribes also carry hunting accessories such as bow and arrow on their backs. Most of the dances are on rhythmic beats and vocals, as dancers move in circles. Women are dressed in multi-coloured handmade drapes and wear their traditional beaded jewellery.
Visitors who will be reaching there for the first time are sure to engage and enjoy such a myriad of cultures. Its beauty and feel cannot be captured in words. For those who have been their once, cannot resist its splendour next year.