Hornbill festival of Nagaland (1st - 10th December at Kohima)
Hornbill Festival is a dazzling smorgasbord of color, music and dance where troupes of dancers and performers from all the major Nagaland tribes come together to perform folk dances, war dances, folk songs and enact folk tales, tribal games and sports.
This festival exhibits the finest works of its people such as wooden handicrafts, ornaments etc. So, if you’re looking for decorative items to make your house look beautiful or to gift something beautiful to a friend or loved one, then there’s no better place to find it.
Hornbill - Name
The Hornbill festival, as the name suggests, is also a tribute to the Hornbill, a bird that is admired by the Naga people for its grace and beauty. This majestic bird is bound closely with the social and cultural thread of Nagaland and reflects in tribal myth, folklores, dance, music and the exotic headgears worn by the tribe
Kisama – Heritage Village
The Hornbill Festival takes place in the Naga Heritage Village complex, Kisama – about 15 km outside of Kohima Town, the state capital of Nagaland.
Located in between the villages of ‘Ki’gwema and Phe’sama’, where it has derived its name ‘Kisama’ from the land donated by the two villages.
Kisama is an open-air exhibition that showcases various aspects of Naga life —Traditional Naga huts and Morungs (boy’s dormitories) typical to each of the Naga tribes are built in the shape of Nagaland map with each location depending on the districts they belong to. These morungs offer traditional food and drinks and depict the way of life in the villages.
Tribes of Nagaland
Nagaland has 16 major tribes – Ao, Angami, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Chakhesang, Khiamniungan, Dimasa Kachari, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchunger, Thadou, Kuki, Zeme-Liangmai (Zeliang) and Pochury.
Each of these tribes have their own festivals and celebrations, customs, traditions, and methods of maintaining them. Each tribe has their own festivals which revolve around agriculture, the main source of income for the population.
The Hornbill festival is a platform to showcase their traditions and revive, protect, sustain, and promote the richness of the Naga heritage and traditions.
But there's a greater reason for its significance.
For the Nagas, the festival is a reminder of their tribal customs and stories. Ruled by British and later, Indian administrators and converted to Christianity by American Baptist or Jesuit missionaries, Naga tribes have struggled to preserve their pre-Christian culture and identity. Their modern political history has been scarred by separatist insurgency, Indian military rule and inter-tribal conflicts. The festival presents a chance for all Nagas to appreciate their culture as a whole, and to see its value to their ethnic identity
The Festival
The warrior log drums, the colorful headgear, the soulful war cry, the exquisite costumes are simply remarkable in their own ways.
The atmosphere turns electrifying. All the tribe people look stunning dressed in their colourful traditional dress. They armour themselves with shield in their hands and carry a weapons (sphere or dao)
Each tribe has their own language, music, dance and traditions colourful costumes and jewellery, by which they are clearly distinguishable. , some songs praise the brave deeds of ancient warriors and folk heroes, love songs that immortalize tragic love stories or stories of everyday life
Each tribal community can be distinguished by the wearer’s colourful and intricately designed costumes and jewellery. The ceremonial attire of each tribe is different. The multi-coloured spears, the headgear, the ivory armlets…
The warrior log drums, the colorful headgear, the soulful war cry, the exquisite costumes are simply remarkable in their own ways.
Music is an integral part of life for the Nagas. Ancient Naga songs that formed the souls of the traditional festivals, have been handed down across the generations and even today, every Naga takes pride in singing.
Now in its 22nd  year, the festival draws visitors from all over India and from around the world.
For visitors the festival serves as a window to Nagaland and its diverse culture and customs.
Sitting with a bamboo jug of hot tea or rice-beer, you will be mesmerized by the vivid colours of the different tribal attire, sound of the drums , flutes and soulful songs.