Assam cultural troop performing a Bihu number at the Nagaland hornbill festival …
“The Hornbill festival held in the first week of December shows that with its stunning natural beauty and great cultural traditions, Nagaland can offer a rich fare to tourists.
NAGALAND, with its diverse tribal culture, is a land of festivals. A narrow strip of mountainous territory with rugged hills, emerald valleys, sparkling streams and a rich variety of flora and fauna, the 16th State of the Indian Union has salubrious climate throughout the year. It is bounded by Assam in the west, Myanmar in the east, Arunachal Pradesh in the north and Manipur in the south. Sometimes referred to as the `Switzerland of the East’, Nagaland represents unimaginable beauty, moulded perfectly for a breathtaking experience. For the adventurous, the State is an ideal place for trekking and jungle camping and offers limitless possibilities for exploring its lush sub-tropical rainforests, which are a treasure trove of medicinal plants. The 20-lakh-strong Naga people, by nature, are fun lovers, and life in Nagaland is one long festival.
Nagas are admired for their rich repertory of folk dances and songs. In spite of the tremendous advance of modernity into their lives, the Naga people have a penchant for vibrant dances and songs praising the brave deeds of ancient warriors and folk heroes, love songs that immoralise tragic love stories, gospel songs and folk tunes. Festivals are celebrated by the various tribes year around; during festivals villages become most lively. Most of the dances have a robust rhythm.
Festivals mainly revolve around agriculture, it being the mainstay of the economy. Over 85 per cent of the population of Nagaland is directly dependent on agriculture and lives in the 1,000-odd villages situated on hilltops or slopes overlooking verdant valleys. In this blissful setting, Nagas enjoy nature with a rare gusto that visitors to the State look at with awe and admiration. In most of these places agriculture consists of a single crop. Although some religious and spiritual sentiments are inter-woven into secular rites and rituals, the predominant theme of the festivals is the offering of prayers to a supreme being, which has different names in different Naga dialects. At these festivals, the gods are propitiated with sacrifices by the head of the village, for a bountiful harvest, either before sowing or on the eve of the harvest. In fact, agricultural work and religion are so interwoven in Naga society that it is difficult to describe the festivals independent of the processes of agriculture.
Some of the important festivals celebrated by the tribes are Sekrenyi by the Angamis in February, Moatsu by the Aos in May, Tsukhenyie by the Chakhesangs in January, Aoling by the Konyaks in April, Mimkut by the Kukis in January, Bushu by the Kacharis in January, Tuluni by the Sumis in July, Nyaknylum by the Changs in July, Tokhu Emong by the Lothas in November and Yemshe by the Pochurys in October.
For encouraging inter-tribal cultural interaction and bringing together the festivals of the various tribes under one umbrella, the Government of Nagaland has evolved a festival called the Hornbill festival, where one can see a melange of Naga cultural displays at one place. Organised by the State Directorate of Tourism every year between December 1 and 5 in Kohima since 2000, the festival is intended to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage and attract tourists.
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