Hosting 16 unique tribes, almost 19 languages, 7 religions, innumerable intersections of cuisines and cultures, Nagaland, one of the most stunning states in the country, has much to offer. Travel to Nagaland to experience the startling beauty of the people, the meticulously preserved culture and the lush virgin greenery.
The weather ranges from around 16°C to 31°C in the summer (May to July) and 4°C to 24°C during the winter. The monsoon brings with it beautiful thunderstorms and heavy rains.It is however advised, that one avoid visiting Nagaland during the monsoons, as the heavy rains may cause landslides and also make travelling within the state inconvenient. However, if one wishes to explore Nagaland free of the usual tourist crowd, it would be a good time to get some quiet sightseeing done. The winter has been recommended to be the best time, weather-wise, to travel to Nagaland. However, do consider your own list of must-visits and plan accordingly, Nagaland has something to offer throughout the year.
Named after the most venerated bird species of the state, the Hornbill Festival celebrates the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland. Also called the “Festival of Festivals”, it is usually celebrated around the 1st to 10th of December. The festival is a platform providing a glimpse into the Naga way of life, a collective celebration that has attracted national and international travelers. A tad commercialized, however, it is one venue that hosts all the tribes and sub-tribes to the foothills below the towering Mount Japfu, to the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama. One is spoilt for choice, as the events through the 10 day period range from horse riding, horticulture, night carnivals and cultural performances by tribes, stilt bamboo walking competitions, sale of handloom and handicraft products, wrestling, fashion shows, to the Hornbill International Music Festival. There’s evidently something for everyone!
The International Music Festival held in Kohima as part of the Hornbill Festival boasts of an impressive lineup and has hosted local, national and international artists in the past, including Australian indie rock band Escapades, Nepal death metal band Dying Out Flame, Chennai based F-16s and Grey Shack, Kerala thrash metallers Chaos, among others. They all compete in the International Rock Contest conducted every year, exuberating musical brilliance throughout.
Image Source: Makemytrip
Festivals celebrated in Nagaland are intrinsically linked with the agricultural cycle of crop growing and harvesting, since a majority of the population is dependent on agriculture itself. While fiercely guarding and cherishing their heritage, the Naga people also celebrate occasions in accordance with their cultural leanings. The rituals so intrinsic in their daily lives, are linked with belief systems that a tribe has valued for generations. Their efforts at preservation and adherenceto the age-old systems and practices are a constant celebration of their heritage. Periodically though, the Naga people come together on joyous occasions and rejoice as one.
Celebrated by the Angami tribe, the Sekrenyi Festival is held over a span of 10 days in February, and is significant of purification and sanctification before proceeding to war. It entails males cleaning wells outside the village at night in preparation of the first day, Zukophe, when the men from the village go to the well and wash themselves, after which, a chicken is sacrificed. The rest of the days consist of rituals, both simple and elaborate,each of them laden with meaning and associated with segments of their daily lives and surroundings. For instance, local rice beer is offered to the spirit of the well, in the fervent prayer that it continues to quench the village’s thirst. The most significant part of the festival occurs on the eighth day with bridge pulling or gate pulling rituals.
Image Source: Nagaland Tourism
The Nazu Festival also falls in February, and for a period of ten days the Pochury tribe conduct festivities in full pomp and ceremony. It takes place right before the annual sowing of seeds for the year. More than rituals, the Pochury tribe conducts their festivities with tons of merriment. There are dances organised, the most well-known of which is the Khupielilie dance.
Image Source: Travelthemes
Once the sowing season has passed, the Ao tribe celebrates the Moatsu Festival in the first week of May in Mokokchung. Significant of a period of relaxation and merriment after the stress and hard labour invested into burning jungles and sowing seeds, cleaning up the wells, repairs and reconstruction on houses by elders, the Moatsu festival is a 3 day long gala of peppy music and dances, eating and drinking wine. The Sangpangtu is when a bonfire is set up, around which men and women in their best attires feast on meat and wine.
In the second week of July, the official bounty season, the Sumi Nagas celebrate the Tuluni festival. Tuluni is the rice beer served in a goblet made with a plantain leaf. By virtue of a sub-differentiation in the tribe between Swu and Tuku, the rituals largely differ. The Tuluni festival marks abundance and joy, providing an auspicious time for young couples to get married and start new lives.
Tuluni Rice Beer
Image Source: tokayep
With the time for harvest in October comes the Yemshe and the Tsokum festivals. The six day Yemshe festival is celebrated by the people of Amongmong, during which they offer prayers to the deity of the house and three cooking stones in the fireplace for a good harvest, opulence, and prosperity. The Khiamgans celebrate the Tsokum festival by thanking the gods for their blessings in the form of good crops and wellness in the family.
Image Source: theholidayscout
The list is definitely not exhaustive, and there is a lot more that Nagaland has to offer to you, with each visit to the intricately woven mix of cultures presenting one surprise over another, constantly delighting.