Hornbill Festival is dedicated to the cultural activities of various tribes of Nagaland. Naga people are known for their festivals reflecting their wonderful culture. The Hornbill festival is one of the most important festival of Nagaland and was initiated by the Government of Nagaland to encourage inter-tribal interaction. During this festival people from different tribes come under one roof to celebrate . It is hosted annually in the first week of December at Naga Heritage Village in Kisma, 12 km from Kohima.
The concept behind this festival is to preserve the rich heritage of Naga culture. The festival is named after a bird called Hornbill which is known for its alertness and beauty. Tourists from far and wide flock to Kohima to see and enjoy the wonderful Hornbill Festival. Dance and songs are the striking features of the festival. Naga people wear a traditional headgear during the festival which look simply awesome. Stretching for one week the festival is a great opportunity to see the tribal dances, handicrafts, parades, games and sports belonging to the Naga culture. Religious ceremonies are also performed during the festival. This festival also gives an opportunity to dig on the traditional dishes of Nagaland as the food fair is also a part of the festival.
The Festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, the large and colourful forest bird which is displayed in folklore in most of the state’s tribes. 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 sale of Arts and Crafts, Food Stalls, Herbal Medicine Stalls, Flower shows and sales, Cultural Medley - songs and dances, Fashion shows, 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. 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, ensure that the festive spirit continues through the night.
The arrival of spring marks the inception of Aoling Festival which stretches for six days. This festival is celebrated by the Konyaks tribe of Nagaland. The festival signifies the beginning of the New Year. Like most of the festivals of Nagaland this festival is also related to agriculture. It is celebrated after the completion of sowing. The first day of the festival is called Hoi Lah Nyih, during this day, the people prepare for the celebration of the rest of the five days.
Naga people look out for domestic animals to be sacrificed during the festival on the second( Yin Mok Pho Nyih) and the third day(Mok Shek Nyih). Lingnyu Nyih is the fourth day which is the most important day of the festival. This entire day is dedicated to feasting and enjoying. Men, women and children wear colourful clothes and try to look their best. Lingha Nyih, the fifth day is devoted to respecting each other. Lingshan Nyih, the sixth day of the festival is for cleaning the houses and village.
Steeped in rituals and ceremonies, Sikrenye Festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the Angami tribe of Nagaland. It is celebrated on the 25th day of the Angami month of 'Kezei' (which corresponds to the month of February) at Touphema village. This festival stretches for ten days and is also known as 'Phousnyi'. Several rituals are observed during the festival. “Kizie” is the first ritual performed by the tribe. Womenfolk take a few drops of rice water from the top of the jug called “Zumho”and put them on leaves. These leaves are then places at the three main gates of their respective houses. On the first day of the festival all the members of a family go to the village well for a bath and at night two people go back to the well to clean it. Once the well is cleaned the youth guard it so that now no one takes water from the well. Early next morning the youth of the village come to the well to take a bath.
They slip into two new shawls – the white Mhousshu and the black Lohe and sprinkle water on their chest, knees and on the right arm. This ceremony is known as “Dzuseva”, meaning touching the sleeping water. It is believed that this ceremony washes away all the ills and negativities of the people. The Thekra Hie ceremony is the most interesting part of the festival. During this ceremony the tribal people gather at one place to sing traditional songs in chorus. The seventh day of the festival is dedicated to hunting. On the eighth day the tribal people pay visits to nearby villages. Feasts are enjoyed during the celebration. During the festival no one goes to the fields for work and dedicate these few days only to celebration.