1. The Hornbill festival is a celebration held every year in the first week of December, in Nagaland, North-east India. It is also called as the ‘Festival of Festivals’.
2. The tribes of Nagaland celebrate their festivals with gusto and fervor. More than 60% of the population of Nagaland depends on agriculture and therefore most of their festivals revolve round agriculture. They consider their festivals sacred and so participation in these festivals is compulsory.
3. Named after the bird, Hornbill Festival is one of the largest celebrations of the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland, the hornbill is particularly revered by the Nagas and is reflected in tribal folklore, dances and songs.
4. The festival is usually on every year from December 1-7. However, from 2013 it was extended for a few extra days. It now concludes on December 10.
5. The festival takes place at Kisama Heritage Village, around 10 kilometers from Kohima (the capital of Nagaland). Performances begin by 9 a.m. each day. You can easily book a taxi to get there, but do ensure that the vehicle has a pass to park at the venue.
6. The Festival is attended by all of Nagaland’s major tribes. It features traditional arts, dances, folk songs, and games. All this takes place amidst immaculate replicas of tribal hutments, complete with wood carvings and hollow log drum instruments, which are beat in haunting symphony at the end of the day. There are plenty of handicraft stalls, food stalls, and heady rice beer to indulge in as well.
7. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated this year’s festival on December 1, 2014.
8. Bollywood producer-director Prakash Jha was here this year. “This festival, I wish, must become popular with all Indians,” he said. “It reflects unity in diversity and this is real India.”
9. The nights are longer in Kohima these days. The city that usually closes down by 5pm is now awake until midnight, as the festival has turned it into a big party venue. Visitors can enjoy the aroma of the local brew Zutho and tuck into smoked meat while watching cultural events by Naga warriors. Some 28 rock bands including the famous English band Smokie are performing this year.
10. The Hornbill Festival is becoming a bigger pull. It is growing economically significant, too. Last year, some 1.8 lakh tourists, including 5,000 foreigners, visited and organisers are expecting more than two lakh this year. According to people close to organisers, the event creates a market of Rs 70-100 crore around it.