Hornbill Festival: One of The Most Beautiful Tribal Festival of India

An amalgamation of blue mountains, green forests and mighty rivers, North-East India is a beauty to behold. The valleys and mountains are enchanting. It’s not just the geography which is serene but the tribal culture and tradition of the North-East of India is what attracts people and makes it a must visit place. Of all the states, one which stands out this month is Nagaland and the reason it stands out is because of the Hornbill Festival.

Hornbill Festival
Image Source: Guwahati Now

Sitting right at the edge of the India-Myanmar border, Nagaland is the most exotic tribal state you will find in India. In the North side of Nagaland the tribes are what you actually see in the pages of National Geographic. The South side is developed but there is one thing which still keeps the tribal culture alive and that is Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival.

This year the Hornbill festival starts from December 1st and goes on till December 10th. With a chance to attend this festival you also have the whole of Nagaland to explore. Let’s have a look at what this beautiful state has in store for the curious traveller.

hornbill-festival
Image ource: FestivalSherpa.Com

Quick Facts about Nagaland

  • Nagaland is one of India’s smallest states.
  • The Nagas are the major inhabitants of the state.
  • The Nagas speak over 89 languages and dialects.
  • The ancient Naga tribes had a distinct ritual of collecting the heads of their enemies after a fight.
  • Hornbills are considered as sacred by the Nagas.
  • The Hornbill Festival is the most popular and famous festival of Nagaland.

Reasons to Visit Nagaland

Hornbill Festival

What is the Hornbill Festival

The Hornbill festival is the most pompous of all the festivals in Nagaland. All the major Naga tribes come at one place to show their zeal and culture through art and dance performances. It is organised by the State Tourism and Arts and Culture Department. The aim of the Hornbill Festival is to promote the culture and tradition of Nagaland.

Where is the Hornbill Festival held

The Hornbill Festivall is held at the Kisama Village which is just 10 km from Kohima. The festivities start every day at 9 am.

Things you should not miss at the Hornbill festival

The Hornbill festival attracts visitors from around the globe as all the tribes showcase their specialities in the festival. This year the theme of the Hornbill Festival is ‘Culturally Yours’. The indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland put up a robust show of their culture and tradition. The traditional dance by the tribes is a must watch. Colorful clothes and interesting head gear, these tribes dancing to the rhythm of the drums is the most beautiful sight.

Tassel Stalls at the festival
Tassel Stalls at the festival
Image Source: Flickr, by Mary

The Hornbill festival also has the Hornbill Half Marathon and the Great Hornbill Run. It also has Cycle rally and a Mountain Biking competition. There is also a Hornbill Riders Meet which is organised by the Nagaland Motorcycle Club. The Hornbill Night Carnival aims at promoting the upcoming local entrepreneurs.

There are many more things to explore which cannot suffice in this list. Have a look at the image below.

hornbill-2016
Image Source: tourismnagaland.com

Konyak Nagas: Face Tattooed, Opium Smoking, former Head Hunters

Tribes come together at the Hornbill Festival, but if you really want an up close experience of the tribal culture it is worth knowing the Konyak Nagas. The Konyak Nagas have very eerie but at the same time fascinating features. The tattoos that the Konyak warriors get are a reward for a human head.

last-head-hunter
One of the last head hunter
Image Source: Flickr, by Sergio Carbajo

In old times when there used to be inter tribal fights, the warrior who got the head of the enemy was considered supreme. It was also believed that owning a head increases the fertility of the crops and also of the warrior who owns it.

These are ferocious people but all the ferociousness and notoriousness is history. Nostalgic about it but head hunting is banned now. You can still see the relics of it in many Konyak settlements like the weapons and some of the skulls too.

A traditional Skull Necklace worn by the head hunters
A traditional Skull Necklace worn by the head hunters
Image Source: Flickr

A Konyak Warrior with his weapon
A Konyak Warrior with his weapon
Image Source: Flickr, by Peter Bos

Food

Zutho

When in North-East, there is no way by which you should miss Zutho, the rice beer. Traditionally it is a drink of the Angami Nagas but is consumed majorly by all the Naga tribes. It is served from Mithun horns.

The Zutho
The Zutho
Image Source: The Alternative

Galho

A Galho is a stew of green vegetables, little axone which is a mix of fermented soya bean, rice and meat. It is called a farmer’s stew as it gives you a refreshing feel after a tiring day. It is an authentic Angami tribe dish.

The traditional Galho Dish
The traditional Galho Dish
Image Source; foodrecipes.cc

Fish Cooked in Bamboo

This is the most traditional way to cook fish in Nagaland. Stuffing them inside the tube of Bamboo it gives the fish a savory taste of bamboo.

Bamboo Fish
Image Source; www.sbs.com.au

The Chutneys and the Chilli Sauces

You should definitely not miss the different chutneys like the dried fish chutney and also the different assortment of sauces which are made from chillies. So go on! Heat up your taste buds with these spicy delicacies in Nagaland.

Dry Fish Chutney
Dry Fish Chutney
Image Source: Indianexpress.com

Places to See in Nagaland

Kohima the capital of Nagaland and Dimapur are the 2 most famous places to see in Nagaland. But here are some villages you must visit for each one of them have their own specialities.

Mon

The Mon district of Nagaland is majorly inhabited by the Konyak Nagas. It is a fascinating district with many places to see and  is host to a rich collection of flora and fauna. Mon is also called as the Land of the Anghs, meaning ruled by kings. In Mon you can get a very close access to the Konyak tribe, their Head hunt relics and many more exclusive items. The Veda peak is the highest peak of the district and on a clear day it gives you a view of Brahmaputra from India and Chindwin which is in Myanmar.

Church in Mon
Church in Mon
Image Source: peteoxford.photoshelter.com

Longwa

Longwa is a village in Mon but gets a special mention because of its peculiar placement. Longwa is situated in a way where its citizens have a dual citizenship. The house of the Angh  (Chief) is divided by the India-Myanmar border. Yes! The border runs right through the house. The house of the Chief has some WWII relics, some totems like a dinosaur etc. You can reach Longwa by Assam’s Sonari town. The village is 40 kms from Mon.

A Longwa Resident
A Longwa Resident
Image Source: Flickr, by Sergio Carbajo

Mokokchung

On the way to Mon from Assam, Mokokchung comes enroute. It is a spectacular place with a hill side view. The Ao Naga tribe resides in Mokokchung. The Ao Nagas are revered as the most hospitable and cultural tribes of Nagaland. All of these have converted to Christianity and it’s during Christmas when you can have the most of their hospitality. Psst! Christmas is right around the corner!

A view of Mokokchung
A view of Mokokchung
Image Source: Sevendiary.com

Longkhum And Ungma

Longkhum is one village in Mokokchung you should definitely visit. The rhododendrons when in full bloom are a very beautiful sight of this village. Also you can see a lot of traditional and ethnic stuff made here by expert craftsmen.

longkhum-overview
Image Source; evenfewergoats.blogspot.in

Ungma on the other hand is Nagaland’s oldest and second largest village comprising of Ao Nagas.

ungma-village
Image Source: evenfewergoats.blogspot.in

Kisama

Kisama is called as the Naga heritage Village and every year the majestic Hornbill Festival is celebrated in this village.It is 10 kms from Kohima. The village is like a stage set for all the festivals all the year round. It is a places where during the Hornbill festival all the Naga tribes come together in harmony. The village has 16 tribal houses which are also called at Morungs. Kisama Village also has a WW11 Museum.

kisama
Image Source; tourismnagaland.com

Best Time to Visit Nagaland

October to May

How to Reach Nagaland

By Air

Dimapur is the nearest airport at 75 kms. It is well connected to Kolkata and Guwahati.

By Train

Nearest railway station is Dimapur, which is well-connected to Kolkata and Guwahati.

By Road

One can take a share taxi from Dimapur railway station and reach Kohima. Direct buses also run daily between Guwahati and Kohima.

Nagaland is where modernity meets history. It shows you a side of India which is still not explored much. Pack up your bags and set out on an enchanting journey to the land of the Nagas.

About Author

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Sweta K Bhanushali

Comments

Nagaland Paradise
July 14, 2017
The main purpose of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its variety and traditions.

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