About The FestivalThe Hornbill festival is one of the most awaited festivals of the people of Nagaland, celebrated in the first week of December since its inception in the year 2000, it is a week-long celebration marking its start in the 1st of December which is also the statehood day of Nagaland. Seeing its success at attracting tourists from different parts of the country and abroad, the celebration has been extended till 10th of December.
It is celebrated at the Naga Heritage village Kisama which is about 12 km away from the capital city Kohima. The festival is organized by the state tourism and art and culture department, Government of Nagaland. It is a festival to revive, protect, sustain and protect the richness of the Naga tradition and display its cultural extravaganza and traditions.
Main Attractions Of The Festival The main attractions of the festival are the colorful display of dance, songs of various Naga tribes, sports, handicrafts and handloom, their traditional clothes, their multi-coloured spears, doas (machete) with dyed goats hair, exotic headgear, ivory armlets, the majestic drums, the mouthwatering local cuisine, etc.
One of the prominent sights is the tribal Morung (youth dormitories, where in earlier days young men and women were sent to gender specific Morung where they learned the virtues of communal living and also acquired skills such as wood carving, weaving, folk music and dance. So the Hornbill festival is the one where one gets to see a colourful and vibrant celebration of a culture which is so intriguing and mystic.
The Festival Of Festivals The state of Nagaland is an agricultural one with more than 60% of the population depending on agriculture for their livelihood, hence agriculture plays an important role and therefore most of their festivals revolve around agriculture which is harvest festival. Although there are 16 recognized tribes in Nagaland with each having their own festivals, the Hornbill festival is a time where all the tribes of Nagaland come under one roof as one. That is why it is called the festival of festivals, it is a great time for unifying diversity as it not only unifies the tribes of Nagaland but also people from the other northeastern states and different parts of the country.
The festival is named as Hornbill after the Indian Hornbill, the large and colourful bird which is considered as sacred by the Naga people and is enshrined and always finds a place in the folklore of the Naga people and is also symbolic in most of the traditional attires of the tribes of Nagaland.
Celebration of the Present and Past In addition to the traditional and cultural extravaganza, one of the main attractions of the Hornbill festival is the Hornbill rock contest, the country's biggest rock contest in which rock band from different parts of the country participate. So, throughout the years the Hornbill festival has evolved from being just a cultural celebration for the people of Nagaland into a mega cultural event for the 8 northeastern states turning it into a cultural extravaganza. Here folks from different stages of life come and participate thus making it into a celebration of the present and the past.
The Prime minister Mr.Narendar Modi was the first Indian head of State to attend the Hornbill festival in 2015. In keeping with upholding the Naga tradition and showcasing it, the festival is held in the heritage village of Kisama and not Kohima the capital of Nagaland. Alcohol (apart from rice beer) is usually said to be prohibited at this festival. The pork, chili eating competition and the giant stone pulling are good events to watch. There are 16 huge gates to the venue that symbolizes the 16 major tribes in Nagaland.