FESTIVALS OF NAGALAND
Nagaland, a land of mountains and deep valleys, is inhabited by more than 16 delightful tribes. The land of festivals - the celebrations in Nagaland extend throughout the year, with each tribe celebrating their own set of festivals. In northeastern India, there is a saying that goes - "There is always something happening in Nagaland." No wonder!
Sekrenyi Festival of the Angami tribe
The festival of Sekrenyi is celebrated in the month of February. Celebrated by the Angamis of Nagaland, this festival falls on the 25th day of the Angami month of Kezei. The festival lasts for ten days and is also called Phousnyi by the Angamis.The Festival follows a series of ritual and ceremony in which the first of ritual is Kizie. As part of this ritual, few drops of rice water are taken from the top of the jug called Zumho and is put into leaves. The lady of the household places them at the three main posts of the house.
All young and old men go to the village well to bathe on the first day of the festival and subsequent cleaning of the well is done by two young men during night hours. After the cleaning is performed, youth guard the well into the night to avoid anyone from fetching water. The womenfolk are strictly not allowed to touch the well water and are only allowed to see that water is fetched for the household before the cleaning of the well.
The next morning (during early hours) all the young men of the village wake up early to take a bath at the well. Young men don two new shawls, the white Mhoushü and the black Lohe and sprinkle water on their breast, knees and on their right arm. This ceremony is called Dzuseva and is done to wash all the ills and misfortunes. After returning from the well, a cock is sacrificed with bare hands. The intestines of the fowl are taken out and are hung outside the house in the village. The elders then come and inspect it. From the fourth day onwards, a three-day session of singing and feasting begins. During Thekra Hie, which is considered as the best part of the festival, young people of the village sit together and sing traditional songs throughout the day. Rice beer filled with jugs and meats is served to the participants. The young men go for hunting on the seventh day of the festival. The most important ceremony falls on the eighth day. On this day, bridge-pulling or gate-pulling is performed. Inter-village visits are also exchanged. No one goes or is allowed in the field and all field works stop during this season of feasting and song.
Moatsu Festival of the Ao Tribe
Moatsu festival is celebrated during the first week of May every year. Various rites and rituals are performed during this period. The festival is observed after the sowing is done. The festival time provides the tribal people a period of activity and entertainment after the stressful work of clearing fields, burning jungles and sowing seeds. The Moatsu festival is marked by singing song and dance. The whole festival is observed only for three days. Sangpangtu, is one of the main celebration where a big fire is lit and men and women adorned with best attire sit around it. Women serve the wine and meat to the attendees. Rice-beer is prepared and all the reared pigs and cows are slaughtered during the festival. Women weave the traditional garments and adorn themselves with traditional jewelry. Women join men in dancing, eating, drinking and composing warrior songs.
Songs and dance are performed to express gratitude to the god for helping the crops to grow healthy and well. Prior to the start of this festival, the village gate is declared to be closed and free entry or exit is restricted. This is done to regulate people who do not belong to that particular village. These festivals also provide good opportunities for the budding generations for demonstrating their intellectual skill and physical powers. Tug of war between men and women are also conducted.
Named after the Indian Hornbill (the large and colorful forest bird which is displayed in folklore), Hornbill Festival is organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments. The Hornbill Festival showcases a combination of cultural display under one roof. This festival usually takes place on the 1st and the 7th of December every year in Kisama which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland participate in this festival. The main aim of organizing this festival focuses on the revival and protection of the rich cultural feature of Nagaland and also aims at displaying its spectacular traditions.
For tourists and visitors, the festival gives a closer understanding of the people and the culture of Nagaland. They also get a unique opportunity to experience the local food, songs, dances and customs. The festival goes on till a week and unites all the people in Nagaland. People enjoy the colorful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremony. Traditional arts are displayed which includes paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures. Traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition displays sale of arts and crafts, food Stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows and sales, cultural songs and dances, fashion shows, beauty contest, games, and Musical concert.
Naga troupes sing folk songs and perform traditional dances. Games and sports are also played during this time. Evenings showcase organizing music concerts and food to ensure the celebrations to continue through the night.