The Hornbill Festival is a celebration of the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland. As one of the most cherished festivals in India’s Far North Eastern state, locals celebrate with much fervour and gusto. Read on and learn more about the festival, the tribes involved as well as why we think Nagaland and this festival is a ‘must do’ in India…
Originating in the year 2000, the Nagaland Hornbill Festival has now run for almost 20 years. The festival takes its name from the Hornbill bird. This iconic bird of India boasts colourful feathers and a large casque atop its bill. The festival runs for the first ten days of December. The purpose of the festival is to showcase the culture and heritage of Nagaland and takes place at the Kisama Heritage Village.
This exciting event includes cultural performances, lively music as well as games from indigenous tribes, fashion events and a craft bazaar. Spend your time here viewing traditional arts on display include paintings, sculptures and woodcarvings. See the individual culture of each tribe exhibited in its morungs; a communal centre of learning and a place of gathering.
Stroll through the food markets and taste cuisine specific to each tribe before seeing what’s on at the film festival. Don’t miss performances including fashion shows, traditional archery displays, wrestling and the Miss Nagaland beauty contest.
You can find Nagaland between Assam, Myanmar, Arunchal Pradesh and Manipur. Installed formally as a state in 1963, this mountainous area of India is home to many unique tribes. Ensure you explore the lush green landscapes and roaming hills of this beautiful region outside of the festival.
Visit the bustling Kohima Central Market and gain some historical insight at the humbling Kohima War Cemetery. The stunning scenery in Nagaland is more than just a backdrop– this area is great for trekking, camping as well as rock climbing. Additionally, we recommend the Dzukou Valley, which is home to a diverse landscape and a thriving ecosystem. Here, explore a lush green countryside shrouded in mist and meandering rivers weaving through the hills.
Sixteen major tribes reside in Nagaland, including the Angami, Konayak as well as the Sangtam. Each tribe has its own jewellery, attire and customs reflecting their individual culture. An important aspect of Nagaland tribal culture is the celebration of festivals, with each having their own festival aside from the Hornbill Festival. Because most tribes of Nagaland practice agriculture, many of the festivals revolve around harvest time.
Furthermore, the Naga people are skilled artisans. Distinct from Indian saris and other traditional dress, they weave their own clothes to distinguish themselves from other tribes– each tribe its own unique shawl. so, if you are interested in seeing the incredible fashion of Nagaland, one of the best places to see it is at the Hornbill Festival!
So, if you’re interested in seeing a plethora of cultures, a range of activities and vibrant people then add this fantastic festival to your itinerary. Discover the distinct heritage of these fascinating tribes and enjoy a celebration of ritual, custom and rich history.