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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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