India, indigenous warrior tribes of India, Kisama village, Kohima, Naga, Naga Morung, Nagaland, Nagaland food, North East India, The Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, traditional dances of Nagaland, Travel
Hi, everybody 🙂 Welcome to my blog!
Today, I have something very unique and interesting to share with you…a cultural extravaganza featuring the indigenous warrior tribes of India’s north-eastern state of Nagaland!
I’m talking about the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland – Festival of Festivals!
I had a wonderful time during this festival in December 2010 and I’m very happy to share a little bit about this amazing event with you.
Nagaland has always evoked a sense of mysticism and awe, intensified by the remoteness of its geographical location. It is known as the land of festivals, as each of the 16 major tribes and many sub-tribes in the state has its own festival. So there’s always a festival in the state from January to December. Each tribe celebrates its own festival with dedication and passion and has its own way of maintaining its distinctive cultural traditions and customs through various forms of performing arts, which are an integral part of Naga festivals.
The Hornbill Festival was started in 2000 by the state government to promote the unique cultural heritage of Nagaland and encourage cultural interaction among the Naga tribes. Today, this highly popular festival has become a major draw for both domestic as well as foreign travellers. It is named after the forest bird hornbill, which is highly revered by the Naga people and which features in all tribal folklores, dances and songs.
The Hornbill Festival is a showcase of the entire Naga culture. Held every year from the December 1, this week-long “Festival of Festivals” brings together the festivals of the 16 Naga tribes under one roof at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 KM from the state capital, Kohima.
This major event is a cultural extravaganza where the government, local communities and various NGOs get a chance to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga Heritage. For visitors, it is an opportunity to get a closer understanding of this elusive land and its people and experience the food, songs, dances and customs of Nagaland.
On the first day i.e. December 1, after the inauguration, the cultural programme began with traditional dances by 16 Naga tribes.
The audience included the Chief Minister of Nagaland, senior Army officials, politicians and the US Consul General in Kolkata.
Watch these two videos of mine featuring Naga folk dance:
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. The predominant theme of the festivals is the offering of prayers to a supreme being, which has different names in different Naga dialects. The Gods are propitiated with sacrifices by the village head for a successful harvest. Agriculture and religion are deeply interwoven in the Naga society. Since 80% of the population of Nagaland depends on agriculture, most of their festivals revolve around agriculture.
Enjoy these photos of the vibrant traditional dances by Naga tribes…
After the cultural presentation, there was a paragliding air show…
I particularly enjoyed watching the traditional attire of each of the tribes.
Each tribal community can be distinguished by the wearer’s colourful and intricately designed costumes and jewellery. The ceremonial attire of each tribe is different. The multi-coloured spears, the headgear, the ivory armlets… In the olden days, the warriors had to prove their valour before wearing them.
A Naga warrior striking a pose…
After the traditional dances and the paragliding show, the focus shifted to the immaculate replicas of the traditional Naga Morungs (tribal hutments) constructed around the area.
Take a look at this lovely view of a village on a hilltop.
The Naga morungs were a delight to watch. Each tribe had a different style of morung, complete with wood carvings and hollow log drum instruments, which are beat in haunting symphony at the end of the day.
Four of the 16 morungs…
Outside each morung, visitors were greeted with a repeat performance of their dance and also folk songs praising the brave deeds of ancient warriors and folk heroes.
Members of the Konyak tribe giving their performance…
Inside each morung, there were food presentations for visitors…
…and tribal textiles too.
Each tribe had its own food stall either inside or outside the morung.
Progress of the modern Nagas in the fields of modern music, fashion, handlooms, handicrafts and paintings are also showcased during the festival.
Music is an integral part of life for the Nagas. Ancient Naga songs that formed the souls of the traditional festivals, have been handed down across the generations and even today, every Naga takes pride in singing. In the evenings after sundown, a programme of music concerts, catering for all tastes, ensures that the festive spirit continues.
This is followed by a night bazaar (market) in Kohima.
The Hornbill Festival provides a colourful mixture of dances, music, crafts, parades, games, sports, food fairs, religious ceremonies, flower show, fashion shows, beauty contest and…a motor rally too!
I had a great time at this festival and I hope you had a great time visiting me too. Do keep visiting because I have more on Nagaland coming up in my next post.
See you soon…till then, take care 🙂
Coming up next: Travelling through the North East of India: Nagaland
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