The Hornbill Festival is often touted as the ‘Festival of Festivals’. It is celebrated from December 1 – 7 every year. It is one of the major cultural events held in North-Eastern India. A vivid celebration of Naga culture, hundreds of thousands people of various tribes throng to this festival every year. The Hornbill Festival is all about lively dance performances and traditional music playing along with other art and practices. For tourists, this is a vibrant foray into a world of cultural unity and harmony. Let us explore a few avenues of this overtly popular festival.
The Theme of Hornbill Festival
The festival has been named after a common Indian bird that populates the dense forests of Nagaland. The Indian Hornbill for the Nagas represents their cultural heritage. Hence, this festival is a means for them to solidify their belief in their traditions and cultural elements. The hornbill festival is also about unity in the face of natural and man-made dangers creeping into our world. The Naga people hold their values very close to their hearts. This Festival, is not only a celebration, it holds much religious and communal values for them. Preservation and protection of the various traditional and cultural values is one of the underlying motives of this festival.
The History of Hornbill Festival
The festival was first organized in the year 2000 by the Government of Nagaland. It was a venture to preserve inter-tribal harmony within Nagaland. It was named after the bird that features in the folk tales of most of the Naga tribes. The Hornbill festival is held also to encourage communication between the tribes. One of the major features of the festival is to involve activities that glorify the activities of agriculture and farming. Majority of the Naga Tribes earn a livelihood through agriculture. Hence, it is essential that a festival binds together the common sacred thread between various different tribes. It has been a rather commendable gesture on the government’s part to have made this festival so popular.
Prominent Features of the Hornbill Festival
The Festival is held on the foot of Mount Japfu, in the Naga Heritage village Kisama. This place is around 12 Kilometers from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. Small huts and typical boys’ dormitories are specially constructed to house the participants of the fest. The visiting tribes indulge in traditional cultural exchanges and indigenous sports. The festival is so beautiful, it is absolutely breath-taking with the colour from the costumes and head gear. The beating of drums along with playful war-cry and energetic group dances are some of the phenomenal sights for tourists. The festivities are accompanied with some lip-smacking local cuisine served with the best rice beer – a common tradition.
The best part of this festival is how it has evolved over the years. December 2018 will see the 8th year of the Hornbill Festival. From a Naga- specific festival to encompassing all of the eight North-Eastern states, the celebrations have come a long way!