Hornbill Festival Nagaland

What is Hornbill Festival of Nagaland?

Nagaland, the northeastern state of India that is famous for its colorful Naga cultures, the picturesque Dzoukou Valley, historical Kanchari ruins, and the great Indian Hornbill. Nagaland is home to several tribes and so different cultures and art forms. But what is Hornbill Festival of Nagaland? I too had the very same question when I heard about it first. Thanks to Google and many websites that offered adequate information about the festival online. This article is meant to compile what I have learned about it as I was preparing to travel from Kanyakumari to Kohima for taking part in the famous Hornbill Festival.

This article is the part of my preparation for a major #OutOnRoads travel project that showcases #HornbillFestival of Nagaland.

Hornbill Festival, an Overview

Angami tribe is performing during the Hornbill festival
Angami tribe is performing during the Hornbill festival

Like most other Indian states, in Nagaland too festivals revolve around various agricultural occasions. However, unlike the modern world, the tribes of this northeastern state celebrate their festivals with glee and passion. The state that is adoringly called as the ‘Land of Festivals’, has no shortage for celebrations. While most of these festivals are devoted to a specific tribal community, the Government of Nagaland organizes Hornbill Festival every year to promote cultural heritage of the state and to boost inter-tribal relationships.

The festival is named after the great Indian hornbill, a bird that is projected even today in the folklore of various Naga tribes. The Hornbill festival is designed and executed by the State Tourism and Art & Culture departments. Visiting Nagaland during the days of this festival is a feast for a culture loving traveler to cherish on a medley of cultural and art displays at one go.

Where can you experience the Hornbill festival?

A performance during the Hornbill festival
A performance during the Hornbill festival

If you got a brief picture about what is hornbill festival, it is time to know that the festival is not celebrated in the capital of Nagaland.

Every year Hornbill festival is held at Kisama, a Naga Heritage Village.  Kisama is about 12 kilometers from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland. Kisama can be easily accessed by road from Kohima. The festival that includes all the tribes of Nagaland is colorful and is considered a must thing to do in India, especially if you are in India during the time of Hornbill Festival.

When is Hornbill festival celebrated?

Hornbill Festival is celebrated every year from 1st until 10th of December. As a traveler or a tourist, you need to obtain a valid entry permit before your begin your journey to Nagaland. These entry regulations are applicable for both international tourists and domestic tourists.

A few more things to know before you travel to Nagaland for celebrating Hornbill Festival

A scene from the Hornbill festival of Nagaland, what is hornbill festival of nagaland
A scene from the Hornbill festival of Nagaland

If you still couldn’t answer your question, what is hornbill festival, here are a few more things that would surely help you get a clear picture.

1. The festival encourages unity

Nagaland is an abode for 16 major tribes, and that composes the majority of the state’s population. Every tribe is unique and has their own cultural identities with distinctive art forms. While they all have differences, the festival is an encouragement for the tribes to experience synergy.

2. Everyone is important

Hornbill festival gives equal importance to every tribes. The venue has 16 gates representing the major tribes of Nagaland. Each gate is constructed with utter care and minute details with individualized designs to match the respective tribe.

3. Hornbill is not even the state bird

Hornbill, the bird that earned abundance of respect and adore through this northeastern state’s festival, is not even the state bird of Nagaland. The Government of Nagaland has used the name for recognizing the great Indian Hornbill and to showcase its prominence in the folklore of various Naga tribes. By the way, Blyth’s tragopan is the state bird or official bird of Nagaland.

4. The capital of Nagaland is not the venue

While you try to answer ‘what is Hornbill festival’, you must surely get an idea about the event venue. Interestingly, the most celebrated festival of Nagaland is not organized in the capital of the state. The festival is held at Kisama, a heritage village that is approximately 12 kilometers away from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland.

5. Nagaland says no to alcohol

This can be a stunning information for many, but it is the truth. Nagaland is a dry state and the people here are very serious about it. I suggest you to keep yourself safe from the hands of law as you venture into Nagaland. The Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act has banned sale and consumption of alcohol in the state in 1989.

6. It’s going to be crowded, a lot!

Nagaland promotes the Hornbill Festival to a greater extend. In 2016 the festival pulled some 170,000 tourists to Kohima and Kisama. Traffic congestion is expected throughout the ten days of the festival and during the preparatory days. Accommodation is another challenge to be addressed. My suggestion is to start finding and booking your desired stay at least 2 months prior to the festival. As a matter of fact, today it is 24th of October, and I am still searching for a stay in Kohima within my cozy tariff bracket.

7. Expect big shots

By now, you know what is Hornbill festival of Nagaland. But do you know that the festival also witnesses big shots like the prime minister of India – Narendra Modi. Bands like ABBA and Helloween can also snatch the attention pretty easy. As traveler, what you should know is that the big shots can pull lot of people and security measures. Make sure that you keep yourself in a convenient position to enjoy the colors.

Of course, there are a lot more to discuss about the festival and learn about the location before you set out your travel. I am making my blog a complete guide for those who are interested to visit Nagaland for taking part in the great Hornbill festival. You can explore most information related to this on our page #HornbillFestival of Nagaland.

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