Kohima: The much-awaited Hornbill Festival 2021 of Nagaland kicked off on Wednesday evening, after a gap of one year following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The 22nd edition of the Hornbill festival at the Naga heritage village of Kisama, about 12 km from Kohima, started as thousands gathered to witness the 10-day festival.
Nagaland Governor Jagdish Mukhi, who graced the inaugural ceremony, urged the young generation to take pride in the tradition of the Nagas and at the same time preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of the state.
“Nagaland is bestowed with a rich biodiversity- both flora and fauna. We need to harness it for the development of the state. Eco-tourism has a huge potential for the socio-economic growth of our society. It can address the unemployment issue to a considerable extent,” Mukhi said.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said the Hornbill Festival is a collaborative celebration of all Naga tribes at one venue with an intention to promote all the 17 indigenous tribes of Nagaland, their culture and products to the rest of the world.
“It is one of the largest indigenous festivals, whereby the uniqueness and diversity of our cultural identity is showcased here in all its grandeur,” Rio said.
The chief minister added that the festival should be considered not only just as a cultural festivity of mass get-together but a platform to experience the unique identity and cultural legacy of “our rich Naga traditions” while also providing opportunities for the local economy to flourish.
“The Hornbill Festival continues to contribute immensely in enhancing the tourism brand of Nagaland and its people, as it gathers strength with every edition. Today, it has come a long way, crossing the boundaries of the state onto the global stage where people of all cultures, from all walks of life, gather as one people, celebrating the gift of life, of community living, and humanity,” he said.
He added that the Hornbill Festival celebrates the Naga way of life, showcasing the unity, reflecting the aspiration for real peace.
“It exemplifies the energy, vibrancy and the new-found ambition of the Naga people. Dozens of platforms have attained international recognition and have succeeded in propelling Naga soft power beyond our borders. The icing on the cake is the Hornbill Music Festival, which is the country’s biggest music event,” he said.
The chief minister also informed the gathering that the festival alone creates thousands of employment avenues in multiple sectors and provides opportunities to the locals. “The success of the event has positively impacted the local economy and the benefits of the tourism economy is beginning to reach the grassroots through our policy of ‘Land of festivals’ with a Mini-Hornbill in every corner of the state. This 22nd edition of the festival will be celebrated in 6 districts of Nagaland,” he said.
The chief minister encouraged the visitors to not only limit themselves to the event but also discover and explore all the other exciting activities happening across the state.
“I challenge you to take part and participate in the indigenous games and sports, indulge in Naga cuisine, songs and dances, arts and craft, folklore and much more,” he added.
Naor Gilon, Ambassador of Israel to India, US Consul General Melinda Pavek, and Germany Consul General Manfred Auster also graced the opening ceremony as guests of honour.
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