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Festivals of Nagaland

Hornbill Festival – the festival of festivals

The Hornbill Festival is celebrated each year for 10 days at the start of December. The festival takes place at Kisama Heritage Village, around 12 km from Kohima.

 

The Hornbill Festival is a great opportunity to experience the wide variety of Naga food, handicrafts, songs, dances and customs of Nagaland and, as the festival is attended by all the major tribes of Nagaland, the cultural diversity of the Naga people.

 

The biggest and the most important of all festival in the north east India is hosted in Nagaland annually from 1st – 10th December at the Naga Heritage Village of Kisama, near Kohima, this is an increasingly commercialised festival that attracts tribes from across Nagaland all dressed up in astonishing and beautiful finery.

 

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.

 

The Hornbill festival started in 2000 as a main event to promote tourism in the state and to bring all the tribes to unite them in one platform and under one roof. Now in its 15th year, the festival draws travellers and tourists from the region, mainland India and around the world.  The festival serves the visitors as a window to Nagaland to experience the way of life and traditions, Along with traditional dance, song, food, wrestling, craft and archery, there is also the Naga chilli-eating championship, Miss Nagaland contest, a rock concert and a motor rally.

 

The area where each of the traditional huts called  Morungs were built is 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 tribal house over the 10 days of festival and celebrations.

Sekrenyi – the festival of purification

Sekrenyi – the festival of the Angami tribe is celebrated in the month of February and falls on the 25th day of the Angami month of Kezei. It is a 10 day festival of purification and sanctification (originally before going to war) with feasting and singing and is celebrated in Kohima Village, Khonoma and Tuophema.

 

Sekrenyi is the major festival of the Angami. It is a 10 day celebration which signifies purification and sanctification (before going to war).

 

Two days prior to the main festival firewood is collected. On the next day animals are hunted in preparation for the meal. Next day the main celebration starts.

 

The males clean the wells outside the village at night in preparation for the first day,  Zukhophe. Only young and pure bachelor boys are allowed to do this work. Next morning, the men go to the well and wash all their bodily parts and then sprinkle the washing water on their clothes and weapons. Then they fetch water from the same well for the women of the household as no one else is allowed to fetch water on that day. On their return from the well, the men each slaughter a chicken.

 

Young boys are only allowed to join in the Sekrenyi celebrations after they turn 6-7 years of age, and their first slaughter is the cock not a chicken. It is only after their first offering that they are allowed to slaughter a chicken as according to myth ‘cock must die in hands, and is then dropped on the ground, if the right leg of the cock comes above the left leg, then it is considered to be a good omen’. The bottom part of the chicken is cut away and the intestines pulled out. On the top of the appendix, feathers are inserted and this is hung at the entrance to their house.

 

The chicken is cooked in a separate (temporary) oven made of wood away from the household’s main kitchen. Before eating the meal, they offer the liver of the chicken along with some wine and pray ‘If any enemy comes, give me the strength that I kill the enemy before he kills me’. Women and girls are not allowed to eat from this meal. Afterwards the men put some water in their mouths and spit it out to mark the day’s end. People make local rice beer which they offer it to the spirit of the well and pray that the well never dries up continuing to provide pure water to the village.

 

Next day people collect wild fruit to decorate their houses particularly the house of a common ancestor. On the third day they cut bamboos which they fry.

 

The most interesting part of the festival is the thekra hie. The thekra hie is a part of the festival when the young people of the village sit together and sing traditional songs throughout the day. Jugs of rice beer and plates of meat are placed before the participant.

 

The 4th day is important for the young couples. They go to the jungle and collect corks, stones, wood pieces etc. to make necklaces and bracelets and various other ornaments. There is an exchange of gifts between them as well as between closely related friends. If someone wants a favor or a gift then he or she can ask for it from their friends but they must do something for them in return. By doing so, they are considered to be very close friends.

 

On the 5th day the young people go to their parents houses and make things such as ornaments, spears, dao and other items which they keep for future use.

The 6th, 7th  days are holidays. On these days people just stay at home and enjoy with friends and family. although in some villages the you men hunt on the 7th day.

 

On the 8th day is the most significant part of the festival, the  bridge pulling or gate pulling as well as inter village visits.

 

On the last day they cook meat and distribute it amongst the villagers.

Aoleang – festival of the Konyak Nagas

Aoleang is the main festival of the Konyaks from northern Nagaland. It is celebrated in the first week of April every year in the Konyak district.  Every village celebrates Aoleang, but especially the Konyak capital, Mon.

 

Aoleang is celebrated with much pomp and fervour. Each day of the festival has its own significance, custom rituals and merry making. This festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Konyak, with indigenous dances, songs and games.

 

Aoleang is the main festival of the Konyaks from northern Nagaland. It is celebrated in the first week of April every year, this year Mon will be witnessing the celebration from 1st – 6th April.

 

It is observed after the time of sowing seeds in new fields. Aoleang celebrations also mark the end of the current year and welcome the beginning of the new year with the spring season. It is the time to pray for a bountiful harvest of crops in the current year. Aoleang is spread for six days from 1st to 6th April. It is celebrated with much pomp and fervour. Each day of the festival has its own significance, custom rituals and merry making. It is a festival of sharing and forging ahead with renewed vigor into the coming year.

 

This festival also showcases the rich cultural heritage, with indigenous dances, songs and games combined with the modern music talents of the district. It aims to develop relationships between the government and the people, bridging the communication gap, promoting peace, culture and progress.


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