Thursday, January 21, 2016

a great experience

The final part of my trip was to the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland.
Nagaland became the 16th State of the Indian Union in 1963 but nationalist activities and tribal disputes continued for some years. Though governed by a Legislative Council, the tribes have some autonomy to conduct their own affairs, and the Hornbill Festival was launched in 2000 for all the tribes to come together to protect and display their history, culture and traditions. There are 16 main tribes plus smaller ones.
The people of Kohima, the capital,

live a fairly western lifestyle but it was a surprise to find Christmas lights, decorations and trees everywhere.

This tree was made of green bottles or cylinders. Men in uniform are plentiful - either the Police, Border Security or Assam Rifles (servicemen bearing rifles). The state, unusually is 80% Christian (about 70% Baptist), and consequently there were Churches, church schools and organisations everywhere too. The government strongly supports environmental issues - recycling and anti-littering. There are fines for littering. The sign above says 'This Christmas go green '

Pointsettias of several different colours were blooming everywhere, and the people use lots of potted plants to decorate/beautify their houses. These were at the festival arena.

The festival is named after the hornbill bird, which is part of the folklore in most of the state's tribes. It is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from the Naga capital Kohima. Highlights that we saw over 2 days were traditional Naga Morungs,

exhibitions and sale of arts and crafts, food stalls,  songs and dances. The  costumes, with traditional woven patterns and decorations of shells, beads, horn and feathers were extremely colourful, and the songs melodious (unfortunately no CDs to buy)




  These, above, are male headdresses
 Here are both real and artificial hornbill feathers. The birds tend to be in the more remote areas.
 The week long festival also has fashion shows, beauty contest, traditional archery, naga wrestling, indigenous games and musical concerts, the Konyak fire eating demonstration, pork-fat eating competitions, the Hornbill Literature Festival, Hornbill Global Film Fest, Hornbill Ball, Choral Panorama, North East India Drum Ensemble, Naga king chilli eating competition, Hornbill National Rock Contest, Hornbill International Motor Rally and WW-II Vintage Car Rally.

They are keen to promote tourism, but as yet there are few westerners. Let me recommend it.

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