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Hornbill Festival 2023: Celebrating Nagaland’s Rich Cultural Heritage

The Hornbill Festival, an annual extravaganza in Nagaland, kicked off on December 1 and is set to conclude on December 10. Regarded as the heartbeat of Nagaland, the festival draws tourists not only from across India but from around the world.

In its 24th edition, this year’s festival boasts international participation, featuring musicians from countries such as Germany and Colombia. Nagaland’s Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, shared before the festival’s commencement that an American music band would be among the participants. Additionally, the festival has garnered international support, with partnerships from the US, Germany, and Colombia.

Jointly organized by the state tourism and art & culture departments, the festival will be held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, approximately 12 km from Kohima. Its primary objective is to revive and safeguard Nagaland’s rich cultural traditions, offering a glimpse into the diverse ways of life across all tribes in the state.

Economic and cultural significance of Hornbill

Often referred to as the ‘Festival of Festivals,’ the Hornbill Festival serves as a platform to showcase Nagaland’s vibrant culture. Organized by the Government of Nagaland, the event aims to foster inter-tribal interactions and promote the cultural heritage of the region.

The festival derives its name from the Indian bird, the concave-casqued hornbill, which holds cultural significance for the Naga people. The bird, found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, is a cultural icon and features prominently in the folklore of most Naga tribes.

The 10-day celebration features a diverse array of cultural displays, including music, dances, songs, and more. Events such as stone pulling, craftscape exhibitions, film screenings, and musical performances are scheduled throughout the festival. The Unity dance, showcasing participants from various Naga tribes, adds to the cultural richness of the carnival. Entrepreneurs also seize the opportunity to exhibit their crafts, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere.

Beyond its cultural importance, the Hornbill Festival is a significant economic driver. According to H Khehovi Yeputhomi, the State’s Tourism and Art & Culture Advisor, the 2019 festival generated a collective revenue of Rs 75 Crore for entrepreneurs and participants, boosting the state’s economy. Similar economic benefits were witnessed in 2018, with Rs 45 crore generated and 500 jobs created during the festival.

In 2019, then Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju expressed the potential for Nagaland to become a hub of adventure sports while addressing the Hornbill Festival, highlighting the multifaceted impact of this vibrant celebration.

– Rupa Kumari

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