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Hornbill Festival - One of the Biggest Cultural Extravaganzas

The Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is one of the biggest cultural extravaganzas in the North East. It is a week-long event held every year from 1st December to 10 December in Nagaland. 

The Hornbill Festival is a festival to revive, protect, sustain, and promote the richness of the Naga heritage and traditions. The Festival is named after the hornbill, the globally respected bird and which is displayed in folklore in most of the state’s tribes.

Konyak tribe hornbill festival

Hornbill Festival - One of the Biggest Cultural Extravaganzas of Nagaland

The state is inhabited by 16 tribes — Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Dimasa, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Kuki, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchunger, and Zeme-Liangmai (Zeliang) Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress. 

Two threads common to all are language and religion. English is the official language, the language of education, and spoken by most residents. Nagaland is one of three states in India where the population is mostly Christian

The Naga people are various individuals or ethnic groups conglomerating of several tribes associated with the North-Eastern part of India and north-western Myanmar. 

The tribes have similar cultures and traditions, and form a significant population in the Indian state of Nagaland, with a significant population in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and in Assam. 

The Naga speak variously distinct Tibeto-Burman languages, including Anāl, Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Lotha, Mao (Emela), Maram, Phom, Pochuri, Poumai (Poula), Phom, Rengma, Rongmei (Ruangmei), Sangtam, Sumi, Tangkhul, Thangal and Zeme. 

In addition, the Naga has developed Nagamese Creole, which they use between various indigenous communities and villages, which each have their own dialect of language.

In 1967, the Nagaland Assembly proclaimed English as the official language of Nagaland and it is the medium for education in Nagaland. 

Other than English, Nagamese, a creole language form of the Assamese language, is a widely spoken language. Every tribe has its own mother tongue but communicates with other tribes in Nagamese or English. However, English is the predominant spoken and written language in Nagaland.

With a growing intrusion of technology into the remote Himalayan regions, the Hornbill Festival was first organized by the Government in 2000, with an aim to protect the Naga culture and to display its exuberant, extravagant and traditional celebrations. 

The festival is traditionally Naga and has everything to do with the celebrations and way of life of the Naga tribes.The week-long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colorful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies.

Traditional arts which include paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display. Festival highlights include the traditional Naga Morungs exhibition and the sale of arts and crafts, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows and sales, cultural medley - songs and dances, fashion shows, the Miss Nagaland beauty contest, traditional archery, Naga wrestling, indigenous games, and musical concert.

The Hornbill Festival provides a colorful mixture of dances, performances, crafts, parades, games, sports, food fairs and religious ceremonies.

The festival both exposes the culture and tradition of tribal peoples, and reinforces Nagaland’s identity as a unique state in India’s federal union. 

Experts have commented that A lot of older folk in the villages travel to Kohima to attend this festival and meet people from other villages from Nagaland because they haven’t met before, hence leading to cultural assimilation. 

Traditional arts are also featured, with paintings, wood carvings and sculptures by modern Naga artists on display. Naga troupes sing folk songs, perform traditional dances and play indigenous games and sports. 

In the evenings a program of music concerts, catering for all tastes, ensures that the festive spirit continues through the night. 

One of the major highlights of this festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival. The Hornbill International Rock Contest and music festival, organized by the Music Taskforce, Government of Nagaland may well be the longest music event in the country. Attractive cash prizes and music-loving crowd makes the event a unique experience for performers.

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