This is a Guest post by- Arunima Sinha
“Hornbill Festival”??? I saw all quizzical expressions around me and few eyebrows raised the moment I had expressed my interest in attending it. And I was all set to explain what it was about – some were genuinely showed interested, some tried their best to show and the rest are just envious. I was happy as it was going to be a week of divine proposition and no work! I have had my reasons why Hornbill has always been on my bucket list….
Nagaland is a magical place inhabited by different tribes, each following their own customs and rituals. For 10 days every year i.e. 1st to the 10th of December, the 16 major tribes of Nagaland come together to celebrate inter-tribal interaction and promote cultural heritage. There are dance, musical concerts and loads of food- the festival is full of surprises and life. It’s like a new world for any outsider who if all eager to take peep into that culture.
Not to mention, Nagaland is that beauty where everything so green that it hurts our “city”eyes– and then the vibrancy of the festival. Voila! How come it would have missed my Bucket list.
Organised by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments of Nagaland, the Hornbill festival, takes place in the heritage village of Kisama- ( the village derives its name from the fact that it shares land with 2 villages- Kigwema and Phesama). Kisama, located 12 kms from the town of Kohima is a convenient spot for tourists base as it’s easy to travel and move around from here to the Heritage village every day to attend the festival.
So my husband Pravin and I had firmed our plans to attend this festival. Our plan was to spend 30th Dec at leisure exploring around and then attend 1st– 3rd December of the festival dates. Believe me logistics around the travel seemed easier said than done.
While checking accommodation we found one home-stay Lalhou’s Homestay (Epitome Villa, Kigwema Village). This place later turned out to be one of the best decisions of our vacation.
We reached Kigwema Village a day before the festival and could see things getting heated. The Heritage village was going through last minute frantic touch-ups, speech and dress rehearsals and security checks. The atmosphere was festive and everything was new for us! Just to stand in the middle of the heritage village and absorb the activities around was an experience in itself! We couldn’t wait for dawn!
Day 1 of the festival began with the Inauguration ceremony where the Chief Minister and governor of Nagaland graced the occasion along with a senior tribe member of the Ao tribe. For one I felt like being on a time machine. The wrinkle on the tribes master were telling stories that have been buried over the years – many evolutions that it has witnessed! I had tear myself away from staring at him. He blessed the festival and declared the beginning of 10 days of festivity and goodwill. There is a Warrior Spirit around in the festival as the beats of the warrior drums fills the air.
Each tribe can be easily identified with their own unique style of dressing and the colours. The energu that the festival carries is electrifying. The festival saw locals, tourist from across the globe, photographers all trying to get the best shot and also getting a taste of the festival. There are different pavilions which saw local handicrafts, local delicacies, jewellery of different tribes and more. My shopaholic spirit got awakened … and rest is of course history! The primary colours being red and black there was a different sense of vibrancy all around. The highlight was the Hornbill National Rock Concert which we happened to miss though.
Our stay in Hornbill was over but I highly recommended to attend it to feel the spirit of north- east, get to know the people and delve into the history while you’re at it! Once you are there it’s a world of its own.
How to reach – Fly to Dimapur from any metro city. From Dimapur take buses or taxis to reach Kohima which will take two hours.
Stay: Book a hotel in Kohima basis the names recommended in hornbillfestival.com ( the site is updated every year, so no stale data).
Arunima Sinha, an HR professional, fitness enthu and wandress at heart, often packs her bag and goes out saying “Hello world” the moment she feels the corporate chair is disturbing her posture.