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The Hornbill Festival, the Festival of all Festivals in Nagaland, got off to a grand start on Thursday as tourists, including foreigners, descended here.
The 10-day festival, which also coincides with the Statehood Day of Nagaland, is an annual tourism promotional event to showcase Nagaland's rich cultural heritage in all its ethnicity, diversity and grandeur, Parliamentary Secretary in-charge of Tourism C. Apok Jamir told IANS.
It is the coming together of all the elements that make up the total Nagaland. The Hornbill Festival is a collaborative celebration of all Naga tribes at one venue.
The festival is a tribute to the great "Hornbill", which is the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas as reflected in tribal folklore, dances and songs, Jamir said.
The awe and admiration for the bird is symbolically displayed on almost all tribal traditional headgears worn during the festivals and is indicative of the unity of the Nagas.
The festival is a cultural extravaganza to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage, while for the visitors to this event it is a means to comprehensively understand the Naga people, their land and culture.
Jamir said over the years the event has become a unique platform for the tourists to witness the cultural diversity not only of the Nagas but also the seven other sister states of the northeastern region.
It was former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio's brainchild to promote tourism by bringing all the Naga tribes on one platform, espousing the spirit of unity in diversity.
Nagaland Governor P. B.
Acharya, who inaugurated the festival, thanked the pioneers of the state who had sacrificed for the people of Nagaland during the early years of statehood.
The interim body was dissolved on November 30, 1963 and the state of Nagaland was formally inaugurated on December 1, 1963. Kohima was declared the state capital.
"Nagaland is a land of festivals and as such we have to promote our rich culture and tradition through festivals to boost tourism in the state," Acharya said.
He said Nagas treat other people with respect and a sense of forgiveness and asked both the domestic and international tourists to make use of the best facilities and go home with sweet memories.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the guest of honour, said the Hornbill Festival would lead to closer understanding within the people of Nagaland where every tribe can showcase its unique culture and tradition.
He also mentioned about the cordial relationship between Assam and Nagaland during the Ahom Kingdom.
Nagaland Chief Minister T. R. Zeliang, who is also the Chief Host, greeted the people of the state on the occasion of the 53rd Statehood Day.
"Naga people are determined to preserve the rich culture and tradition," Zeliang said.
"Nagaland being considered as geographically isolated from the mainland would soon be a thing of the past with the coming up of 'Act East Policy' and Hornbill Festival being recognised internationally," the Chief Minister added.
(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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