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Kohima soaks in festive spirit as Hornbill show kicks off

Kohima: The picturesque landscape of Nagaland came alive with the onset of the annual Hornbill Festival on Thursday at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama. Every year, in the first week of December, the state unfurls its culture canvas renewing its inter-tribe interactions with the hosting of this 10-day festival, which coincides with the Statehood Day.

Guest of honour at the festival, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said he was honoured to be part of the great heritage showpiece which gave the people of this region, the Nagas in particular, an opportunity to exhibit their rich traditions. The chief minister said the festival will help in bringing different tribes of Nagaland closer and enable people to take a peek into their unique culture. Sonowal also stressed on the cordial relations between Assam and Nagaland during the rule of the Ahom kings.

Sonowal was accompanied by two ministers, seven legislators and an MP from Assam. A special rendition of the Assamese song enthralled the festive crowd.

Gracing the occasion as the chief guest, Nagaland governor PB Acharya said Nagaland is a land of festivals. "We have to promote our rich culture and tradition through festivals to help boost tourism," he said, adding that the quality of infrastructure would also improve.

Describing the nature of Nagas, he said they treat people with respect and a sense of forgiveness. He thanked the government for hosting the festival. He also recalled the sacrifices of the people of Nagaland during the early years of statehood agitation.

Nagaland chief minister T R Zeliang, also the chief host, delivered the welcome address. He also thanked the chief minister of Assam and his colleagues for being so positive about the festival. Zeliang said the Nagas are determined to preserve the rich culture and tradition of the state. He added that the geographical isolation of Nagaland would end with the implementation of the Look East Policy and the international recognition of the Hornbill Festival.

The festival, named after the colourful Indian Hornbill, is admired and revered in Nagaland for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas and finds copious mention in folklore. The awe and admiration for the bird is symbolically manifested in the traditional tribal headgears of Nagas worn during festivals and is indicative of Naga unity.

Over the years, this event has gained in stature and magnitude. It has now become a platform for visitors to witness the cultural diversity not just of the Nagas but of the seven other sister states of the northeast.