It was in the year 2000, that the State Government desirous of promoting tourism embarked upon an ambitious project to exploit the cultural assets of Nagaland, through a weeklong long festival to coincide with the celebration of Nagaland Statehood Day on 1st December. Thus, the inception of the Nagaland Hornbill Festival so named in collective reverence to the bird enshrined in the cultural ethos of the Nagas to espouse the spirit of unity in diversity.
Nagaland is a cultural mosaic of diverse multi-ethnicity sprung up by the several tribes that inhabit the State. Each community celebrates its myriad festivals revolving around the agrarian calendar that makes Nagaland by default, a land of festivals. Twelve years on, this intangible heritage asset has been aptly tagged lined in the changed moniker – "NAGALAND HORNBILL FESTIVAL: FESTIVAL OF FESTIVALS" to encompass through collective celebration the colour and vibrant elements of all the tribal festivities and give a glimpse of Naga life to titillate cultural sensibilities. What has emerged from a local heritage event, metaphor to a national and international festival has now become a must visit and notable attraction in the travel itinerary of both domestic and international travelers.
The annual Hornbill Festival will be held for ten days, 1st – 10th December. It draws all the tribes and sub-tribes of Nagaland to the foothills below the lofty spur of towering Mount Japfü wherein Naga Heritage Village, Kisama – the venue of the Festival lies. It plays host to a weeklong medley of cultural performances, indigenous games, craft bazaar, music events, fashion, cycling, motor sporting, events, a kid’s carnival, floral galleria, food courts, film festival and a series of competitions in various activities.
Prominent sights at Kisama are the imposing tribal Morungs (male dormitories) that are resplendent specimens of Vernacular architecture. Every Naga community is represented in their respective Morungs. Some even accommodate the majestic log drums where male members intermittently beat the gigantic hollowed log with wooden beaters in perfect synchronization. Long before the age of modern communications, the Nagas devised indigenous methodologies of relaying messages by beating different tempos and arrangements to send out messages decipherable only to the village members. As you hear the sound reverberate throughout Kisama it hypnotically draws you in search of the source.