The Hornbill Festival is a celebration held every year from 1 - 10 December, in Nagaland, Northeast India. It is also called the 'Festival of Festivals'.
The state of Nagaland is home to several tribes, which have their own distinct festivals. More than 60% of the population of Nagaland depends on agriculture and therefore most of their festivals revolve around agriculture. The Nagas consider their festivals sacred, so participation in these festivals is essential.
To encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of Nagaland, the Government of Nagaland organizes the Hornbill Festival every year in the first week of December. The first festival was held in 2000.
The festival is named after the Indian hornbill, the large and colourful forest bird which is displayed in the folklore of most of the state's tribes.
Organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, the Hornbill Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof. This festival usually takes place between 1 and 7 December every year in Kohima.
The Hornbill Festival is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its extravaganza and traditions.
For visitors it means a closer understanding of the people and culture of Nagaland, and an opportunity to experience the food, songs, dances and customs of Nagaland.
The week-long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful 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 colourful 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 programme 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, which is held at Indira Gandhi Stadium; local and international rock bands perform.