Nagaland is home to many tribes, inhabited by mainly 17 of them. The origin of the word ‘Naga’ remains unclear, however, it is popularly accepted that it originated from the Burmese word ‘Naka’ or ‘Naga’ meaning people with earrings or pierced nose.
The Hornbill Festival, also called as The Festival of Festivals, was first held in the year 2000 to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote the cultural heritage of Nagaland. Most people think that Hornbill is the national bird of the state as the festival is named so. But it is the Blyth’s tragopan which happens to be Nagaland’s state bird. The Indian Hornbill is just a part of the folklore of almost all tribes of Nagaland.
The Festival commences from 1st December and continues until 10th December below the towering Mount Japfu wherein lies the venue of the festival- Kisama, around 12 kilometers from the capital, Kohima. Prime Minister Narender Modi inaugurated the place in 2014 which actually proves the gaining popularity of the region with a notable attraction for international travelers.
In spite of the contagious western culture touching the East and ripping them off their originality, the Nagas have retained and preserved their tribal identity and legacy. Each and every tribe and sub-tribe take part in the festival who is distinguished from each other by distinctive traditional attire, different from one another. Every Naga community is represented in their respective Morungs (male dormitories) where some even put up the majestic log drums where the males beat the log with wooden beaters in flawless synchronization.
The festival is a platform where the Nagas showcase their talent, skill, tradition, history and culture. It is an eye opener for the tourists about Nagaland’s rich cultural diversity which is scarcely known or recognized. Anyone who sets foot in the festival gets absorbed in the colorful mixture of performances, sports, food fairs and religious ceremonies.
Apart from the cultural events one cannot miss the different types of dishes available and can be called a foodie’s paradise. The very famous Naga chilly eating and Pork eating competition gathers the maximum crowd along with the traditional food stalls. As they say, save the best for the last, the party begins in the evening when the atmosphere gets grooving as international bands perform at the Hornbill International Rock Festival that is held at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
Festival is another name for a get together as people all around the world come with their families to spend some quality time as well as learn and experience something which was unknown before. Nagaland, The Land of Festivals cannot have been a better option.
Image courtesy: wikipedia.com, hornbillfestival.co.in, www.catchnews.com