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Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, India

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Named as the “Festival of Festivals”, Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, India is a distinct annual grand festival held in December, every year. The Kisama Heritage village, situated in slopes of a mountain peak, just 12 Km from the state capital, Kohima, is the usual site for the Hornbill Festival.

hornbill festival of Nagaland

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, India

Apart from the Famed Hornbill Festival, Nagaland also offers much more such as-

Other than the Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland also boasts of the Touphema Tourist Village, situated just 36 Km from Kohima. The traditional Angami Naga village has been recreated into the Touphema Tourist Village.

A stroll around this tourist village is pleasant enough to give you a glimpse of the Naga culture and social system as well as how it has evolved during ages.

Also, the ten days long annual festival of Sekrenyi, colloquially called as Phousanyi, of the Angami Nagas, is organised from February 25, every year in the tourist village. 

Coming back to the Hornbill Festival…

When Does the Hornbill Festival Take Place?

Immediately following the Sangai Festival of Manipur that takes place from November 21 to 30 every year (from November 24 to November 30 in 2019), the Hornbill festival of Nagaland takes place from December 01 to 10 every year. You can refer the day-wise schedule of the complete Hornbill Festival here.

Many won’t be knowing that a Mini Hornbill Festival is also organised in Apr every year, named as Aoleang Mini Hornbill Festival. The other festivals held in Nagaland are Ahuna Festival and Sekrenyi.

Why Is It Called the Hornbill Festival?

Although Blyth’s Tragopan is the state bird of Nagaland, the Hornbill Festival is named after nearly extinct, the Great Hornbill, which is also the state bird of the North-Eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as well as of the coastal Indian state of Kerala.

Characterised by a curved bill, the shy bird has a two lobbed kidney and Naga people consider it sacred.

The Hornbill festival witnesses many spectacular events during those ten days in December each year. The unique activities that promote inter-tribal interaction are a treat to watch and see for cultural enthusiasts.

Nagaland is a native place for several tribes, with their unique and distinct festivals. With more than 60% of the population of Nagaland depending on agriculture, the culture revolves around the soil.

An unmatched example of a united diversity and cultural banquet, the glorious Nagaland is the land of 16 major tribes and many sub-tribes speaking more than 89 languages and dialects.

Learning about these tribes of Nagaland, their delicacies, exotic cuisines, customs, dances, and their Morung is a life long experience to cherish.

What Happens During the Hornbill Festival?

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland India

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland
Courtesy- Mitu, Wikimedia

Hornbill festival showcases and promotes the rich, diverse and vibrant arts & culture of the state of Nagaland including traditional competitions such as eating maximum no. of king chilli, eating pork fat, handloom & handicrafts, fine arts, music, traditional folk dances, dresses, delicious indigenous cuisines, and much more.

It also witnesses and hosts mind-boggling indigenous sports such as climbing an oiled bamboo pole, catching a Pig.

The mesmerising view of colours, dramatic ornaments, and festive mood will capture your heart.

The week-long festival displays colourful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies along with traditional arts including paintings, sculptures, and wood carvings.

Major Highlights

The highlights of the festival include the sale of arts and crafts as well as the traditional Naga Morung exhibition, herbal medicine stalls, food stalls, flower shows, cultural medley including fashion shows, songs and dances, beauty contest, Naga wrestling and traditional archery contests.

Other highlights include-

  • Zutho (Rice Beer), a drink of Angami Nagas and served in Mithun horns.
  • The Hornbill Half Marathon, the Great Hornbill run, Cycle and Car rallies.
  • Naga Chilli eating completion, of eating a maximum number of chillies in 20 seconds. Bhut Jolokia, of Nagaland, is the World’s hottest chilli.
  • Pork eating competition.
  • Colourful spears, duos ornamented with dyed goat’s hair, royally decorated headgear with hornbill’s feathers and boar’s teeth.
  • War dance performances by warrior tribes such as Konyak, Chung, and Sumi.
  • Horse riding, Naga wrestling, Greased bamboo pole climbing, Traditional archery, and Stilt bamboo walking.
  • Kohima Night Bazaar

Reaching Nagaland

By Air

Nagaland is easily accessible by air. The airport is located in Dimapur at 3rd mile on NH 29, 74 Km from the state capital Kohima. There are daily flights from Delhi to Dimapur, as well as from Guwahati and Kolkata. Air India, Air-Asia and Indigo are the frequent service providers.

By Rail

The nearest railhead is Dimapur in Nagaland having all major trains plying through it including the Rajdhani.

By Road

Easily accessible by road, you can drive into Kohima from the neighbouring states of Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Takeaway

Nagaland has a lot to offer, from the war cemetery in Dimapur home to 1400 martyrs of the fierce Battle of Kohima to the village Longwa in Mon, where people have dual citizenship of both Myanmar and India as the border passes through the middle of this village.

The ten-day festival ends up with an array of bonfires, one for each tribe to dance around and one central one in the middle.

Briefly, the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is one of the most significant tourism events showcasing the rich cultural heritage in North-Eastern India. A matching event of this grandeur is the famous Sangai Festival of Manipur.

Vande Mataram

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