File photo showing Zeliang Naga Tribesmen of Nagaland, India rehearsing their traditional dance during Hornbill Festival. Photo by Vikramjit Kakati

The Hornbill Festival, in its 17th edition this year, got off to a grand start coinciding with the statehood day of Nagaland at the picturesque Naga Heritage village Kisama on Thursday.

Hornbill Festival is an annual tourism promotional event of the state government with an objective to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage, which also aims at comprehensive understanding of the Naga people, their land and culture to the visitors.

Over the years, the event has gained in stature and scale and become a unique platform for the tourists to witness the cultural diversity not only of the Nagas, but other states of Northeast India in all its wonder and glory.

Marking the inauguration of the 10-day long celebration, traditional blessing was offered by Guru Sangyusang Pongener of Ungma village under Mokokchung district while the inaugural celebrations of ‘Unity in Culture’ was presented by Sky Entertainment, wherein diverse cultural ethnicity of the varied cultures and traditions of different tribes were showcased, besides depiction of age old sufferings under tribal conflict within the Naga people.

A cultural troupe from Assam enthralled the gathering by presenting their colourful folk dance and songs.


The festival is a tribute to the Hornbill, which is a revered bird for the Nagas, for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas as reflected in various tribal folklores, dances and songs. The awe and admiration for the bird is symbolically displayed on almost all tribal traditional headgears worn during festivals and is indicative of the unity of the Nagas.

Saying that the age old ties between Naga and Assamese people has served as the common bond for the two states to determine their relationship, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who attended the inaugural ceremony as a Guest of Honour, said that both Nagaland and Assam must work hand in hand to usher rapid development of Northeast region. While speaking at the inaugural function of Hornbill Festival, the Assam chief minister reiterated that Nagaland government has done a commendable job in building Hornbill Festival as a perfect platform to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of Nagaland.

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