It is difficult not to have heard of Hornbill festival, but it is quite possible that you have no clue about it. For many of us, Hornbill is a cool festival that happens somewhere in the North East. A festival we have been hearing about from random people and tourists traveling to India. Well, let me clarify that this festival happens in one of the oldest and most fascinating places in the country known as Nagaland. It is home to 16 tribes and each tribe has been celebrating their traditional festivals throughout the year for centuries.
In the year 2000, the Government of India decided to make the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama as a melting point of all these 16 tribes to showcase Nagaland’s impressive past and immersive culture. A place where visitors get an opportunity to get a closer understanding of the elusive land and its people along with the experience of customs, traditions, food, song, and dances. It is one of the largest celebrations of the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland. The festival is named after Hornbill, one of the most venerated bird species in the state whose importance is reflected in a number of tribal cultural expressions, songs, and dances.
The predominant theme of the festivals is the offering of prayers to a supreme being. Spirits that roam the jungles and villages, the fertility of mother earth, social bonding among communities, purification and rejuvenation are the main elements that form the souls of the festivals of the Naga people. Naga people have a rich tradition of maintaining their unique heritage and customs. In spite of the tremendous modernity entering into their lives, the people have preserved their customs and legacy and have kept the torch of their tribal identity lighted.
During the festival, each tribal community can be distinguished by the wearer’s colourful and intricately designed costumes and jewelry. You can also witness the immaculate replicas of the traditional Naga Morungs (tribal hutments) constructed around the area. When you visit them, each tribe will welcome you with their traditional dance wearing their traditional outfit. You can actually weave a common thread that binds all the different cultures.
Now if you thought that the festival is all about display and no interaction, you’re wrong there. There is a slew of amazing competitions to participate in, like the King Chilly Eating Competition. In 2011, a guy called Pajor ate 15 chilies in a record time of 20 seconds you can try to beat that record for starters. If you are not into chilies then there are a variety of other local food and drinks. My favourite is pork ribs, chicken stew along with Rice Beer.
If you are a photographer or a lover of art then this is the place. It offers not only tribal painting on canvas but also living art, in the form of dancing and costumes, which can be captured through your lenses. This festival exhibits the finest works of its people such as wooden handicrafts, ornaments etc. So, if you’re looking for decorative items to make your house look beautiful or to gift something beautiful to a friend or loved one, then there’s no better place to find it. The things that you find here are truly one of a kind. Then there is the night bazaar full of food, music, dance and a whole lot of fun activities! And if you are into rock music then you cannot miss the biggest rock festival of India, the Hornbill Rock Festival (a perfect amalgamation of tradition and modernity). If you have a band then this is a chance to win glory, as the winners receive great prizes in the competition! All the rock enthusiasts in India must definitely visit Nagaland during this festival!
In these modern times, this festival allows you the opportunity to understand how they have managed to preserve their culture and at the same time their openness to the new world. With thousands of people from across the country in attendance, do make your bookings early to ensure you get a good hotel stay. Ten days of fun, festivities, and merrymaking awaits you!
Date: 1st December 2018, – 10th December 2018.
Another article which you might find interesting: Have you heard of Majuli?
by Vincent Panangadon