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Nagaland is the destination of colors, rituals, and equally festivals. The diversity of people and tribes, each with their own cultures and as well as heritages, create a year-long atmosphere of celebrations in the state. The most prominent festival is the Hornbill festival. A lot of tourists from all over the world come to this destination to attend this festival.

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Festival Destination

The dazzling array of ethnic lifestyles opens up fresh insights into a land that has a prism-like beauty. At their festivals, we get to know about their rich culture and also a tradition. The sixteen tribes of Nagaland hold separate festivals with their culture and also their lifestyle. In that sense, Nagaland has a festival every month. The tribes in Nagaland have festivals around the elements like the spirits that saunter the villages and forests, the fertility of the soil, community bonding, purification, and as well as rejuvenation. Nagaland is a perfect destination for India to explore unknown festivals and also Cultures.

16 Tribes And Their Main Festival In Nagaland

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The Angamis

The Sekrenyi festival of the Angami Nagas is their main festival. It is a celebration of purification accompanied by feasting and singing. A highlight of Sekrenyi is the Thekra Hie. Village youth gather and croon the traditional songs throughout for the day.

The Konyaks

Aoleang Monyu is an ancient spring festival. Konyaks tribe celebrates this festival in the first week of April. The forefathers of Konyak believed they were direct descendants of Noah. And they have biblical names like Mosa, Kaisa, Aron etc. Added to this, it is believed that they crossed a mythical gate called Alem-kaphan. Which the Konyaks interpret as the gate of the sun. The village heads still use the word “Wang” for themselves which means “the beginning of everything”.

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The Chakhesangs

A new year of activities begins with the arrival of spring. Tsukhenye festivals all activities related to sports and also entertainment begins after the harvest. The first morning in the festival, the village priest sacrifices the first rooster that crows. The menfolk purify themselves by bathing in a designated well. No women are allowed here. After bathing, they invoke God for strength, long life, good harvest etc. Sukrunyi is one of the essential Chakhesang festivals. Girls and boys are consecrated through religious ceremonies and rituals.

The Aos

The Aos celebrated Moatsu festival after the season of sowing is over. The festival celebrated with vigorous singing and dancing also continues the customary practices of making the best rice beer.

The Sumis

Sumis main festival is Tuluni which means rice beer. As the festival sees a lot of consumption of beverages and food during the summer. That’s when the granaries are full and food abundant.

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The Changs

Naknyulem is a festival of bonding through the exchange of gifts and delicacies amongst friends and relatives. Meat, wine and freshly packed bread are abundantly used. Festival run through lots of fun sports and games. For this festival, the Chang decorate their houses with a special kind of tree.

The Rengmas

Nagada is an annual celebration of the Rengmas Nagas. It is the festival of thanksgiving and rejoicing. Also, this underscores the end of the agricultural year.

The Sangtams

The Sangtams have about twelve festivals spread over the calendar year. All the festivals are connected to food production, blessings, and prosperity. Mongmong is one of the important festivals of the Sangtams. The main feature of the festival is the worship of the God of the house and three cooking stones in the fireplace.

The Phoms

Moneu is a new year festival. And Monyu’s arrival, announced by the beating of log drums with a distinct tune. The features of the festival are men folk showing respect to their married daughters or sisters by offering them specially prepared food and rice beer. This custom reflects the high status of women in a Phom household.

The Pochuris

Yemshe is the festival for blessing the upcoming harvest. all the Pochuries celebrate this festival with great pomp and gaiety anticipating a good harvest.

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The Lothas

The Lothas celebrates Tokhu Emong once the harvesting is over. And the granaries are full. The entire village participates in the celebrations. The main features of the feast are community songs, dance, feast fun and frolic.

The Khiamniungams

Miu is a bonding festival. The main purpose of Miu is to build and reinforce relations between a maternal uncle and his nephews and nieces.

The Kukis

Kukis celebrates Mimkut, a harvest festival for a week from the 17th day of Kuki month of Tolbol. In spite of the festival, the village medicine man sacrifices fowls and performs a series of rituals. Because they believe to propitiate the spirit of demon-god during this festival.

The Kacharis

The Bushu is a post-harvest festival in January. And Kacharis people generally celebrate it around a full moon night.

The Yimchungers

The Yimchungers celebrate the Metumniu festival after the millet crop harvested. And Young girls and boys are get engaged during this 5 days long festivals.

The Leliangs

Hega is Leliangs matrimonial festival, dedicated to the almighty. It is considered an auspicious time for young couples to tie the nuptial knot. The festival begins with a variety of programmes and as well as merrymaking.

Celebrate the life

Nagaland is a land of challenges is due to its geographical placement and weather. Most importantly, the tribes know how to take challenges positively and celebrate life. For them, festivals are meant for connecting with the community and thanking nature and God for food and life. This spirit of living is badly missing in the city. Hence once we should go and visit the destination of the festival to learn to celebrate life.

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Travel brings surprises with a new trip. Travel teaches me how to earn people. I always get excited before travelling to a new place and rarely fall asleep the night before. Before my trip to Nagaland, I got to hear a lot about the place from known and unknown people. Those were so full of predictions and hallucination that a normal person would drop the idea of visiting Nagaland. But when I finally reached Nagaland, I was overwhelmed to see Naga people’s hospitality.

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The Unknown Trip

During a trip, we get to mingle with locals which is vital too. And once we get to mix with them, their culture, their life becomes much easier for us to understand. During my Nagaland trip, I get in touch with some Nagas. We gel very easily, which smoothen my way to understand their culture. I have a lot of stories in this regard, all in all, this blog will not end in one page, it may become a little book. The story I will share here has changed my whole thought about Nagaland and its people.

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The Naga Hospitality

Hornbill Festival is one of the biggest tribe festivals in Nagaland. More than two lakh people from all over the world come here every year to attend this festival. The main purpose of this festival is to showcase the culture of the sixteen tribes of Nagaland to the whole world through the carnival. And I meet here some local people who are my age. I get a lot of information about Naga culture, Naga food and their daily life from them. They tell me about some authentic naga food and for my first-time experience, they order some of the items too. And no one allows me to pay the bill. The reason for them is simple and straight, they can’t allow their guest to pay for anything.

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Cheers

New Bonding

Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet. The people of Nagaland have made me feel like family. After our lunch at the Hornbill Festival, they drive me to different places around Kisama village. It turns out to be a special evening for me in Nagaland. I remember the moment when they take me to a hill to have coffee. We sit for a long time there and sing Hindi movie songs with hot coffee. At that moment it feels like I am at home with my people. They all start forcing me to spend my rest days in Nagaland with them in their house and I can no longer stay at my guest house.

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New Bonding

They Are Waiting For Me

Next morning a car comes to pick me from my guest house. They talk to the guest house owner and pick me from there. For the next few days, I belong to a Kohima house. I don’t know the name of that place.

From morning to afternoon, we roam around various places in Nagaland. I taste a lot of authentic Naga food, which is not usually found in any restaurant, only made at Naga home. They never miss keeping my only request of one cup of tea in the morning. They request their Bengali neighbors for that tea. I don’t know how to say thank you to them. Every night we go to parties at hidden places in Nagaland. One night I pay our food bills secretly. But as they find out, they request me not to insult their culture. I feel ashamed. At that moment I don’t know what to say to them.

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On the day of my return, they insist on driving me from Kohima to Dimapur. Kohima to Dimapur it’s around 4hr journey. I can’t let that happen. And somehow I manage to convince them. I already have my bus ticket from Kohima. I still remember when they come to see me off at the bus stand, we all group hugged. They say that next year too they will wait for me.

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Naga By Birth ..love the tag line

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I was on my way to Kohima from Dimapur. It was already 5:30 pm, the sunset time. My shuttle car was moving slowly through the mountain valleys and my phone ringing continuously. The network was pretty bad there. Still, I picked up the call and a hasty voice asked me about my whereabouts. “Call me when you reach Kohima. Me and my family waiting for you”, the voice yelled.

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Finally, at 7:15 P.M I reached Kohima. I called him, and the network was a little better. He said that he had arranged for the car for me. His friend was the driver and owner of that car. He was waiting for me near the Kohima main bazaar. From Kohima to his house was another 40 minutes. He asked me not to worry as his driver friend would drop me safely and no payment required. On another side of the phone was Stany, my host in Nagaland.

When I decided to visit the Hornbill festival, It was mid-November. And the festival would be starting on 1st December. The hotels, homestays, and tents were prior booked for the festival. Desperate me was randomly searching Naga people on Facebook, asking for a homestay near hornbill festival ground. Then someone contacted me and told me about Stany, his friend, who had started for the 1st time a new homestay business. Post my conversation with Stany had sent me a few pictures of his house. And I was a little worried, whether to book a 1st timer in a new strange place. It could turn into my nightmare. But I didn’t have any other option but to book his house. So I did.

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FAMILY HILL HOME STAY :

I found out the place was in a dense forest and surrounded by mountains. Post reaching there I saw the house was in the deep dark. It was freezing outside. The dimmest light was coming from a bulb which had no intention to spread the ray. Suddenly, a flood of light came on me. I was shocked by that sudden presence as a man was holding a torch. He was merely visible in the dark. Stany was waiting for my arrival. He gave me the warmest hug on our first meet. That was enough to defrost all the ice in my mind. An 8 years-old girl came to me with a smile and glass of hot water. It was so pleasing and overwhelming. I chose a mixed dormitory with 5 more beds in the room. My bed was beside a window. And I already loved my stay.

HILL HOME STAY Nagaland
HILL HOME STAY

MEETING MARLINE:

Next morning when I woke up, I heard children’s playing. That sound was enough to lift my mood. As I came out of my room, I saw the beautiful red and yellow house was lonely in between the valleys. In front of me, there was a huge ground. Wherein the children were playing football. The place was surrounded by greenery. And the same beautiful 8 years old, Angela, who gave me hot water last night, was playing with her beautiful small sister Marline. I could not stop myself from joining them. But 8 months old Marline did not welcome her unwanted guest. 

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As I sat near her, she made a crying face. Instantly I made a safe distance. And she became normal. But she kept an eye on me. I utilised that to please her. Marline looked at her left, I did the same. She raised her hand and touched her cheek, I replicated her actions. Now she found it fun and started noticing me. I made funny faces, she smiled, and at a point, she laughed. Post her green signal, I sat near her and stretched a finger. She stretched her finger too and touched mine. Rest of the day she was on my lap. 

Marline

MY EXTENDED NAGA FAMILY:

Stany made my stay beautiful in Nagaland. His village name is Kigwema village. And his sweet home was situated over a hilltop. As per my calculation, it was the tiniest hill, as his house was surrounded by the biggies. I never imagined to wake up to that breathtaking scenario. The festival ground was a 10-minute walk away. While I was playing with the kids, Stany’s wife came and greeted me with a hot cup of teas. Every day with the children I used to play a football match. Life seemed like a Bollywood film. Good morning Nagaland.

Aka, Stany’s wife, served me typical Naga breakfast, with some fried beans, pork bacon, 2 toasts, and a banana. During the breakfast Stany made me understand the way to the festival ground and the way back home. He mentioned specifically to come early from the festival and to have dinner with them. The menu for the dinner was pork curry, sticky rice along with some other things.

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Roland & Angela
Look at the Cute smile

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THAT NIGHT:

The last Party

One night I was very late and lost my way to Stany’s homestay. It was 11 pm. Due to the entire day’s activity, my phone was charged out too. It was pitch dark and lonely. After a point, I felt so helpless that sat on the road not knowing what to do. Suddenly a man was coming from a distance with a torch. I asked him eagerly about the way to Stany’s homestay. The man called my name, “Shuvo, I am Stany. I came out to look for you”. And I followed him home silently as sometimes gratitude can’t be expressed in words

THE END:

My Naga Window

The end of stories is always special to me. I met some Naga friends in hornbill festival and we bonded quickly. They forced me to join them at their place for the rest of my days in Nagaland. I did not want to leave Stany but their warmth was also unavoidable. Stany and Aka made me share their contact numbers, their addresses with them. I am not a kid, but I felt that was more of a family member’s concern.

Stany arranged a small party for my last night. He asked to join his few friends and my new friends as well. With rice beer, besides the warm bonfire, we celebrated the togetherness. While interacting with my new friends Stany found out a common thread between them. I just laughed as he was so relaxed post that. Next morning when I say goodbye to them, Angila and Roland asked me, “are we not playing today?”

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When I planned my first Nagaland visit, at that time many people gave me a lot of advice. Like Nagaland is not a safe state. Nagas are not ordinary people like us. Naga cuisine is very bad, even they eat dog and sometimes human also. Culturally they are wild. Nagaland does not have law and order. The most ridiculous part was these people never been in Nagaland.

So I asked to my those well-wishers one simple question. ‘HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN NAGALAND’. They confidently answered, “No, we hear all sort of stories”.I understood that these are popular believes about the beautiful Indian state NAGALAND. When we think about Nagaland, we tend to think about negative things only. As nobody has told them the positive story of this state. The believes are mostly like ghost stories. Nobody has seen it but heard a lot about it. So today I’m excited to give you a glimpse of what I had experienced in the beautiful state.

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Naga By Birth- The tagline
Tagline ….

My First Visit

I visited Nagaland in 2019, December, for the great Hornbill festival . And trust me, Nagaland is extremely safe, like any other cities of India, with the most friendly people I’ve ever met. They went out of their ways to ensure my safety and a good time. Until you visit the state you will never know what was missing in your life. So make your first move.

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you my top 5 favorite things about NAGALAND

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The People

Sumi tribe Girl Nagaland
Sumi Tribe Girl

I interacted with as many locals as I could. And not once on any occasion, I was disrespected or even looked funny or disappointed. I was invited dozens of times by the locals into their houses for a cup of naga tea or rice beers and even been offered a bed to sleep in. I accepted the offer and stayed there with one of them for 4 days. They prepared food for me, even they gave me a tour in Kohima city and nearby cities. And believe me, I was feeling so ashamed as they were not letting me pay a single penny for anything. I was trying to pay them for their hospitality, on the other hand, all they care about their hospitality. Such a difference. They truly believe that the guest is The God. I made many good friends at the Hornbill festival, and I can’t wait to go back and visit them all someday soon. All over Nagaland people are very friendly and helpful. They are also very colour full and concern about the tourist.

Chang Tribe people Nagaland
Chang People

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Hornbill Festival Ground
The Ground of Hornbill

The Hornbill festival

The ‘Hornbill Festival’ is held every year from December 1 to 10 at the Kisama village. More than 2.39 lakh people witness Nagaland’s annual cultural function. The festival was conceptualized to showcase Naga culture,  traditional and contemporary, in the spirit of unity in diversity. The  10-days cultural extravaganza celebrating the age-old traditions of the 16 tribes of Nagaland through art, dance, music and obesely food. Since its inception in the year 2000, it has brought about radical changes in the tourism scenario of the state. This colour full festival is connected Nagaland to all over the world.

Saramati peak

The Beauty

Nagaland is an unexplored beauty.  Nagaland is also a place of abundant beauty evident in its mystifying hills and valleys spread everywhere. A land engulfed in mystery, inhabited by vibrant people zealously guarding their culture – dancer, warriors head hunters mountain, valleys, forests, all these from the portrait of Nagaland the moment the word is uttered. The cultural and the scenic merge is the main quintessence of this place. This is the land of Colour, rituals and festival. The untouched beauty of tribal history and customs is the added grandeur of this state. The river Doyang and Diphu pass through the place and create a mesmerising effect with the amalgamation with the hills. Nagaland has come a long way over the year and etched a name for itself in the world’s tourist destination map. So don’t listen to people about  Nagaland, just listen to your soul.

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The Food

Preparation of Naga cuisine
Naga Food

We are always curious about naga cuisine. As per popular belief, we think naga people eat almost every eatable thing which actually they do. But every community and culture have their own survival struggle. History will tell us many incidents like this. When people are out of food, then they used to hunt everything to eat. Nagaland is not the exception. Naga people geographically and economically went through such time, which made a diverse change in their food habits. There are sixteen main tribes in Nagaland, each with similar yet unique traditions and practices. While food from each tribe overlaps, there are also certain dishes that are specifically known from a certain tribe. Rice, pork, chicken, dog, insects and worms, vegetables, and famous chilli sauces are essential in the Naga diet.  For real Naga food, it’s best to eat it at someone’s home. A normal Naga food meal would include rice, some kind of meat either dry or gravy, pork with bamboo shoots, boiled vegetables, and spicy chilli sauces. 

During the Hornbill festival, I had seen people all over the world enjoying authentic naga food like dried Pork, smoked pork stew, Nagaland pork w/dry Bamboo Shoots, Bamboo Steamed Fish and Roasted Intestines and Boiled Vegetables. And The rice beer is the topmost booze in Nagaland. Any house party to all over the hornbill festival the only drink you got this is rice beer. Naga people call Zutho.

The Naga Culture
Naga Culture

The Culture

The Falcon Capital of The World, Nagaland supports a flamboyant tribal culture which leaves anybody visiting the place amazed and dazzled. Nagaland has an ancient history of tribes whose count sums to be as much as 66 including the sub-tribes. Out of these, 16 are considered as major tribes. With a difference in language, all tribes have a similar leafy dress code, eating habits and traditional laws. Nagas are mostly Christians. The state is regarded as the most Baptist state in the world as 75% of it is dominated by them. Soft-heartedness and hospitality of Nagas leave anyone visiting the place astounded. They have a zest for life and are very exuberant when it comes to celebrating festivals or any other day of equal significance.

But naga people like western cultures very much. They like any kind of music but they like most western music. It made me feel sometimes that I was in China or Japan. In my eye, Nagaland is one of the beautiful places in India though it’s little neglected. But this land is pure gold.

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