Nagaland: Hornbill Festival begins sans eastern Nagas participation

Kohima: The much-awaited 23rd edition of the annual Hornbill Festival kicked off on Thursday at the Naga Heritage village Kisama, located about 12 km from Kohima.

However, it is for the first time in the history of the festival that seven tribal hohos under Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) will not be participating, citing negligence towards them during the festivities.

The vibrant cultural and traditional display of the tribes in attendance filled the main arena with much fervour during the inaugural ceremony. The vice-president of India Jagdeep Dhankar was present on the occasion as chief guest.

Thousands of people, including cultural troupes, tourists and locals filled the festival arena at Kisama. But there was an uneasy silence looming over the morungs belonging to the Eastern Naga tribes and it wore a deserted look, unattended by its guardians

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organization (ENPO) on October 14 had resolved to abstain from participating in the festival due to hardships faced by its cultural troupes.

The traditional displays of the tribes belonging to the Eastern Naga tribes, namely, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Sangtam, Tikhir and Yimkhiung, were nowhere in sight on an inaugural day.

The tribes spread across six out of 16 districts in Nagaland, namely Kiphire, Longleng, Mon, Noklak, Shamator, and Tuensang, have been demanding a separate state, Frontier Nagaland.

Addressing the gathering at Kisama, Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio said that the 23rd edition of the Hornbill festival was ‘historic’ as it coincided with the 60th statehood day.

He said that the festival is a symbol of the brand Nagaland and an emerging soft power for the state.

The core of the festival, he pointed out, was the culture and traditions of the Nagas. He also urged visitors at the festival to be ambassadors for the state.

Earlier, at the statehood day celebration, the chief minister also said that the Hornbill Festival, which showcases the beautiful cultural heritage of the Nagas, is an asset owned by all tribes of Nagaland. The success story of the festival, he said, should continue to make the festival bigger, better and more valuable. 

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