About Hornbill Festival
Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is named after the Great Indian Hornbill. Folklore in Nagaland eulogizes the hornbill. Hornbill is central to the Naga tradition finding symbolic representations in their faith and costumes. One of the tales relate how a Naga youth, unable to bear his step-mother’s ill-treatment, turned into a Hornbill and took to wings promising to be in his village every year. During such flights the youth came across two of his past beloveds who are now married. Seeing his beloveds the man-hornbill plucked two feathers from his body and presented a feather to each of the dames. The man-hornbill flew away never to return but his gifts to his beloveds made their way into headgears as they kept dancing elegantly as human crowns at yearly held festivals for posterity’s recognition of a tradition and the enjoyment it gave to man and his community.
Hornbill exudes nobility – beauty and bravery and because of its roar-like call, its strength is believed to equal with that of a tiger, which personifies the quintessential warrior. It is also symbol of fertility – reproductive and agricultural – and is perceived to possess social values similar to those of humans.
Although Christianity is the predominant religion in Nagaland, yet each tribe annually celebrates its respective traditional festival connected one-way or the other with sowing, post-sowing or harvesting.
The state of Nagaland is inhabited by 16 major tribes - Ao, Angami, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Chakhesang, Khiamniungam, Kachari, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchungrü, Kuki, Zeliang and Pochury. The 10 days long Hornbill 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.
Hornbill 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.