Nagaland is known as the 'Land of Festivals' and one such grand carnival, organized by the State Tourism of Arts and Culture Department, Government of Nagaland is 'Hornbill festival'. Also known as ''Festival of Festivals", this is a commonly celebrated being a traditional cluster of all the seventeen Naga tribes, to promote intercultural harmony. It hardly has any featureless moments and provides a lifetime opportunity to know about ancient tribal lives through the exploration of the structure of tribal huts, which is dated back to primaeval lifestyles including other instruments like drums, gongs, costumes and wooden carvings.
Hornbill Festival Dates
Named after a bird, who is a symbol of 'Respect' and 'Folklore' among the Nagas, it is a week-long fair which commences from December, 1st and is usually extended till the 10th day. The dates for the festival, therefore, are December, 1st - 10th every year.
The Venue of Hornbill Festival
This festival has a unique aim to cherish and promote the richness of Naga culture and all the main events take place below the spurs of Mount Japfu in the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 10kms from Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland. Since 2000, the festival has evolved from being representative of the cultural diversity of the Naga tribe to one grand cultural event including every North- Eastern state. Isn't it a big achievement towards unifying these sister states?
Timings for the Festival
9:00 AM- It typically begins at this hour and the crowd starts occupying the venue. Therefore, it is advised to reach before time to avoid a long entry queue or miss out the wonderful showcases.
12:00 PM- This is the time for lunch which lasts for two hours and usually a break hour for the performers. One can also try lip-smacking food during this hour.
2:00 PM- People usually return to the activity area for talent hunts and shows. 5:00 PM- This is the time for some luscious Rice Beer and evening snack. After this begins the most- awaited, Hornbill National Concert.
Hornbill Festival Tickets
Passes worth INR 20- INR 30 have to be purchased every day for the event.
The cost of the cameras is INR 50 in addition.
Certain formalities are necessary to be checked upon: •Domestic tourists must obtain the inner line permit from the local government. •Foreign tourists are required to register at Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) of the residential district within 24 hours of the arrival.
Schedule & Events at the Hornbill Festival
A schedule handbook is available at the entry area. The festival starts with an Invocation to the religious deity with a tribal dance which is followed by the inauguration of certain textile and handloom stalls, competitions like the horse- riding, and a pony cart. There is a perfect portrayal of talent with Hornbill Photo Fest, craft space, painting portfolio. There are breathtaking performances, sports, crafts, games, ceremonies and food fairs.
Main highlights of the festival include Traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition, sale of Arts and Crafts, Flower show, chilli eating challenge, herbal medicines sale which ends with musical medley and concerts in the late evenings.
Reaching the Venue
By Air: Kohima does not have an airport of its own and the nearest one is in Dimapur, at a distance of 74 kilometres, which operates domestic flights from Kolkata and Guwahati. Foreign tourists will first have to reach either Kolkata or Delhi international airports and then take a flight to Dimapur. From there, is a two hours cab ride to Kohima. Further, is the two minutes cab ride to Kisama for which a taxi can be hired easily because of the frequent availability. Otherwise, there is also a thirty minutes helicopter ride from the airport.
By Railway: As Kohima, does not have a Railway station of its own. Thus, the nearest one is in Dimapur which has direct connections to Kolkata and Guwahati. This is the best way to reach as it has taken one through scenic landscapes which offer satisfaction to the eyes and soul.
By Road: NH39 is a shared highway which connects the major North- Eastern states. It is an easily accessible network connecting Kohima with Guwahati and Shillong within a span of 3 hours, covering the journey of 70 kilometres.
The Significance of the Hornbill Festival
This festival is highly significant among the North- Eastern states because of the fact that more than 60% of the Nagaland's populations is dependent upon 'Agriculture' and thus, this festival, in particular, revolves around the sacred status granted to the Agriculture activities here which can be witnessed by being a part of the Naga family's Hornbill Festival.
Festivals are ways to bring together a large family to celebrate the togetherness. Such Cultural mosaic of multi-ethnicity is worth cherishing. Age-old practices, tribes which you haven't known before, warm and courteous gestures of Naga tribes will make you feel at home, wandering through the lanes of lush green villages, Kohima's night bazaars, proud and soulful display of traditional values and a life away from a chaotic life. This is all that we seek and must experience with a sense of being closer to our Nation. And, this is what the Hornbill Fiesta does by bringing different cultures together to discover another beautiful culture.