The Hornbill Festival: Fostering Legends and Tales from the Land of Tribes

The country of many cultures and faces holds many secret treasures and tales which are still unknown.

Tripti Jain

India has always been rich and proud of its heritage and diversity, be it the grand experience of the Rajasthan, or the street and coastal array of the southern tip. There are multiple folds to our little country and the people are more than welcome to share the Tales and Legends of the past with everyone. One of the places that immediately make you pack your bags and jump on the wagon is Nagaland. It’s a state which is not only rich in culture and heritage but also fosters some of the oldest tribal cultures on the land. What better than a full-blown festival to celebrate the magnanimity of the state. 

Nestled in the eastern hills of the country, Nagaland is a small state that is the perfect embodiment of unity in diversity. A celebration that marks the origin and survival of the tribal culture and traditions.  A festival of festivals – the Hornbill Festival is an event that takes place in the last month of the year and is a raging hit for the people who want to explore the tribal history and all the folklore around it.

The idea behind Hornbill Festival is to propagate and promote inter-tribal interaction and also celebrate the backgrounds of all the tribes and exchange roots of different cultures. Nagaland is the home for some of the oldest tribes that exist with their unique significance and string of rituals and traditions. They celebrate their tribal heritage all year long in different little festivals. The first week of December every year is a whole new experience for the people visiting Nagaland, where all the tribes come together to acknowledge each other’s presence and existence.

Delve into the past

The different tribes in Nagaland come together to promote their culture with the utmost respect and essentially feel the importance to grace the festival with their cultural presence. The Hornbill festival is being celebrated for almost 16 years now and every year marks a new beginning and tribute to the tribal culture that is still very much prevalent and is recognized with pride and gusto. What started as a mélange of a cultural exhibit in the year 2000, has now turned into a full-blown festival that unites and welcomes people from all over the world. The festival aims to protect and preserve the Naga culture and the Tribal heritage of the state, which is why the festival sticks close to its roots and brings the various tribes of Nagaland together.

Head to the Hills

The best way to experience the customs and heritage of the people of Nagaland is to visit the Hornbill Festival. Held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is 12km from Kohima, the festival is a frolic and fervour of a ten-day parade of events. Men and women dressed in traditional tribal outfits take you back to the vintage days of cooking meals in the woods. People engaging in dances and exchanging tales of their ancestors over bonfires is something that adds to the wholesome experience of the festival.

The State Tourism and Art & Cultural Department ensures to keep the tourists entertained as well as deemed with all the important customs of the tribal regions. The Music festival is held at Dimapur which is another ride for the visitors. The festival is an extravaganza of cultures and people coming together to witness food, music, dance and traditions in the most wonderful way possible.    

Experience the brim of Cultures

Named after the globally respected bird that is displayed in folklore in most of the states, Hornbill curates and caters to people from all walks of the earth. The festival relishes food, handicraft, music and dance at a level that surpasses your expectation levels and blesses you with an experience of a lifetime.

The ten-day-long parade of events sports some of the most colourful and intricate dances from the heart of the tribal regions, where the men and women dance to traditional tunes engaging in a repartee of their own. Some games and ceremonies keep everyone engaged and a series of art in the form of paintings, wood carvings and sculptures that will leave you mesmerized.

One of the highlights of the festival includes the Traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition, which is the one place where you can splurge on artefacts and souvenirs. You will also be able to spot Naga Wrestling and Traditional archery at the festival, which makes you want to try hands on it. Apart from the dance routines, music that is never heard, Art stalls, herbal medicine stalls, beauty contests, the festival houses some of the scrumptious and lip-smacking dishes. Prepared with traditional recipes and the spices of the east, the food stalls at the festival are to die for and will make your taste buds come for more.

A day missed is an opportunity gone!

So, for all the historians and travellers looking for some tribal interaction and diversified traditions, don’t even give it a thought and pack your bags now. The experience at Hornbill is of a lifetime experience, which compared to any other excursion is a boon.

Nagaland being the land of the tribes, will give the perfect tour to the past, present and future of our existence and also take you on a journey that is so refreshing and joyful.




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