Nagaland also known as the ‘Land of festivals’, with almost 16 tribes is a state rich in cultural heritage and traditions. It is one of the ‘Seven Sisters’ of the North East. This state has one common festival which calls in all the tribes’ participation as one to bring out the beauty of Nagaland as a whole. It’s known as the “Hornbill Festival”. This festival is celebrated in the first week of December every year in Kisama Heritage village almost 12 km from Kohima. Here are 10 reasons why you must be in Nagaland this December to witness the charming Hornbill Festival.
The Hornbill Festival is the most lavish and exuberant showcasing of the Naga culture and heritage, and one of the most thronged festivals of the country by people from all around the world. The festival is named after the large exotic bird because it forms the centre of many a local folklore. The Festival, organised by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, is an extravagant affair, complete with parades, fashion shows, beauty contests, sports, games, stalls of various regional cuisines and artefacts.
Expect the most ethnic representation of all the Naga tribes, including their traditional war costumes and war cries, the different simplistic architectural styles in the smaller huts erected in the area. If you thought that the festival for all display and no interaction, you’re wrong there. There is a slew of amazing competitions to participate in, like the King Chilly Eating Competition, the Hornbill Rock Festival, the Kohima Night Bazaar, and even more, which you shouldn’t miss at any cost if Nagaland is on your list of destinations to visit in December.
1. Colourful Magic
If you love watching a fusion of rich colours and coming together of different tribal cultures, then this a place you need to be for it is bound to leave you mesmerized. The clothes and make up of the performers is something that you all should look out for.
2. Coming together of different tribes
It is a day where not only the Nagas but also people from all the 8 states of the North East come together to show their rich cultural heritage. Instead of visiting all the places in the North East, why not just visit this grand festival and see all of them be one? Last year, our honourable Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi was the one who inaugurated this Hornbill Festival in Nagaland.
3. Does Rock music give you chills?
If you’re a fan of rock music, then you should know that the biggest rock festival of India is hosted in Kohima, Nagaland every year at the Hornbill Festival. Not only that, 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!
4. Love walking through bazaars
Spend your time tasting savoury local delicacies and indulge your time in some street shopping in the local bazaars. Kohima’s night bazaar comes to life for the seven nights of the Hornbill festival and is full of food, music, dance and a whole lot of fun activities!
5. Participate in weird, yet fun contests!
Hornbill Festival hosts many fun contests that will leave you with bad indigestion but happy memories namely, pork fat eating contest and King chilli eating contest. Tourists like to take part in such competitions and give it their best shot. What you have to do is, a plate of chillies will be given to you and in the given time you have to eat as many as you can. In 2011, a guy called Pajor ate 15 chillies in a record time of 20 seconds.
6. Art lovers, rejoice!
It is heaven for people who love any form of art. It offers not only art on a canvas but also living art which can be seen through the graceful dancing of the different tribes. The exhibition is famous for its tribal paintings giving you a feeling of connection with their traditions.
7. Mouthwatering local food
This is the perfect place where you can please your taste buds with all the delicious food that the North East has to offer you without having to go through the painful process of searching for a restaurant or ordering for food online. I’d like to give you a few suggestions if it’s your first time. The place is famous for its pork ribs and chicken stew. A must taste drink for any tourist is the ‘Rice beer‘.
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 that you find here are truly one of a kind.
9. Sports that keep you on the edge
Traditional archery competition and wrestling competition are some of the special events held during this festival. If you love sports, whether its watching skilled people shoot their goal or hefty people push each other to the ground, the Hornbill festival is where you should be.
10. Understanding local culture and traditions
Lastly, if learning about different traditions is your thing, then there is nowhere else on earth you’d rather be. The biggest gathering and coming together of different cultures at one place, proudly displaying their traditions, is only found in the Hornbill festival in Nagaland.
I hope the crowd at Kohima would be bigger this year, by the presence of people who truly respect and love the rich heritage our country has to offer.