When it comes to celebrating culture and ethnicity in the northeast part of India, a few festivals stand out: Rongali Festival of Assam, Sangai Festival of Manipur, and Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, which is also known as the 'Festival of Festivals'.
After a COVID-19-induced hiatus of two years, the Hornbill Festival – which was celebrated virtually in 2020 and 2021 – has returned this year with preparations being carried out in full swing. It celebrates the numerous ethnic groups of the northeastern state and is organised annually from December 1 to 10 in Kohima.
History Of Festival Of Festivals
The state of Nagaland has 17 major tribes, besides several others found in its remote regions. Each tribe celebrates its own festival across the year to celebrate its significance and traditions: the Kukis celebrate Mimkut in January, Kacharis celebrate Bushu in January, Chakhesangs celebrate Tsukheniye in January, Angamis celebrate Sekrenyi in February, Konyaks celebrate Aoling in April, Aos celebrate Moatsu in May, Sumis celebrate Tuluni in July, Changs celebrate Nyaknylum in July, Pochurys celebrate Yemshe in October, and Lothas celebrate Tokhu Emong in November.
The Government of Nagaland thought that it was necessary for the tribes to interact with each other to promote the state's cultural heritage. Consequently, in 2000, it organised the first-ever Hornbill Festival as a mixture of cultural exhibitions, reports Outlook India.
Packed With Culture
Organised by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, the festival is named after the Indian hornbill, which is often mentioned in the folklore of most of Nagaland's tribes and is commonly sighted in the state forests. The grand fete is held at Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, which is around 10 km from the state capital of Kohima.
All tribes participate in the festival to ensure that the rich culture and traditions are protected in the truest sense. The morungs (huts) of each tribe have already been set up at the venue and are one of the biggest highlights of the festival.
The ten-day festival is packed with cultural dose with the organisation of several events: ceremonial performances by each tribe, colourful dance and singing performances, crafts, food stalls, fashion shows, traditional sports like archery and wrestling, indigenous games, and art ceremonies, among others. A glimpse of the tribal culture can be seen throughout these events, especially in the exhibitions which showcase paintings, sculptures and wood carvings.
A grand music show with performances by local and international artists is also held parallel to the tribal festival in a bid to engage people from all demographics.
Hornbill Festival 2022
The vice president of India, Jagdeep Dhankar, inaugurated the festival on Thursday, December 1, which is also the 60th statehood day of Nagaland. A report by The Telegraph says that several foreign dignitaries will also be a part of the inauguration ceremony: Ambassador of France to India, Emmanuel Lenain; Trade Commissioner for South Asia & British Deputy High Commissioner for Western India, Alan Gemmel; and Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O'Farrel Ao.
The festival, now back after two years, will contribute to the tourism industry in the state while also boosting the economy, authorities are hopeful. For the last two decades, besides adding to the state's economic prosperity, the Hornbill Festival has also helped tourists get an understanding of the state's culture and provided them with an insight into the ethnic groups.
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