With no local script, the ancient history of Nagaland is quite unclear. The earliest records of the presence of the Naga people in the region dates back to 1228 CE. However, what we do know for sure is that Nagaland was an independent state without much interaction with the outside world due to cultural barriers and geographical isolation. Life remained fairly undisturbed until the British annexed Assam in 1826 and the warrior tribes of the hills of the Assam Valley (now referred to as the Nagas) came to their notice. Over the next few decades, hostility rose as the people of Nagaland fought hard to protect their land and identity and a series of battles were fought where many British soldiers, as well as Naga warriors, lost their lives.
It was only after the Battle of Khonoma in the year 1879, that the British finally could finally claim control of what is present day Nagaland. The Rupee was introduced and the historic practices of social governance were done away with. The 19th century saw the advent of Missionaries from the West into the region who began the long process of religious conversion of the ethnic communities from Animism to Christianity.
Decades later, the World War II has a huge impact on the peace of the land for a considerable period of time. Even after that, post the independence of India, the people of Nagaland came into friction with the Indian Government as they fought for regional autonomy. These instances of conflict over and over again (British invasion, World War II and then finally against the Indian Army) lead to a lot of the traditional culture, from customs to regional architecture of the land, being burnt away over time.
From the year 1963 onwards, Nagaland was given its own statehood under the Indian constitution. As of today, 17 major tribes are officially recognised in Nagaland. Apart from these, there are numerous sub-tribes that dwell in the state.
Nagaland holds a stunning amalgamation of diverse cultures that are evident in everything from language and cuisine to attire and traditional machetes. The Hornbill Festival is an annual cultural celebration held in the beautiful state of Nagaland, India. The festival, that annually takes place from December 1 to 10, was created in 2000 to showcase the rich and unique culture of the 17 major tribes residing in the state.
Named after the revered hornbill bird, which is seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Naga culture, the festival provides a platform for these tribes to come together and share their heritage through various art forms, including local music, dance, and sports. Visitors can indulge in traditional Naga cuisine, witness cultural performances, watch traditional sports like wrestling and archery and learn all about the distinct cultural diversity the state holds.
Join us this December to witness the state of Nagaland come alive with colourful outfits, traditional boozy brews, mouth watering food, and a lot of song and dance in the Hornbill Festival.
Highlights of the trip
Organized by the Nagaland Government, and known for its lavish and exuberant displays of Naga culture and heritage. It is also called the ‘Festival of Festivals’, is a 10-day cultural fest that showcases the rich and diverse Naga ethnicity through folk dance, traditional music, local cuisine, handicrafts, and art workshops. The festival is named after the large exotic bird because it forms the center of many local folklores.
The Hornbill festival is the largest indigenous festival organized by the state government of Nagaland to promote tourism in the state. It is celebrated every year for the following reasons:
The Hornbill festival takes place in the village of Kisama, which is between the 2 villages named ‘Ki’gwema and Phe’sama’. Kisama is 12 kms away from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland.
The Hornbill festival was first held in December 2000. It is organized by the Nagaland Government to boost local tourism.
The Nagas regard the Morung as a key institution, and the heart of their social life. During their time there, the young students learn about social practices and beliefs from their elders. A morung serves as a watchtower for the village, and is built at a high altitude. Members of the Morung, watch over and protect their villages from raids and attacks.
There are numerous events held during the hornbill festival. Cultural performances from various tribes, a display of handlooms and handicrafts, cultural exchange, Naga Wresting, open contest for Naga King Chilly eating content, pineapple eating contest, World War II Rally, Village walks, treks, exploration of Dzukou Valley, rock concerts, celebration of Naga food, are only to name a few. Explore the diversity of Nagaland with ChaloHoppo.
Nagaland is inhabited by 17 major tribes along with other sub-tribes, and they have cultural performances in the Hornbill Festival. The names of the tribes are as follows: