Nagaland set to celebrate popular Hornbill festival virtually this year

Nagaland has decided to celebrate its popular Hornbill festival virtually this year, amid the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.

In a statement issued on Saturday night, the department of tourism said the annual festival would be observed over “audio visual media channels and social media platforms” this time, and people can enjoy the tribal dance performances sitting at home.

The content for the online programme will be sourced from government archives, it said.

Hornbill Festival, held from December 1 to 10, showcases the culture, heritage, food and customs of Naga tribes at Kisama village near here. Sixteen tribal communities come together to celebrate their traditions with colourful dance performances.

Political parties, including the opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the Congress, as well as various civil society organisations had urged the state government to cancel this year’s Hornbill Festival.

Every year, enthusiasts willing to witness the annual extravaganza book accommodations during September-October, but this year barely any lodge has received reservation owing to the pandemic and related restrictions on tourist visit, said Kohima Town Hotels Union president Khrielakuo Sekhose.

He also said that many hotels have been temporarily turned into quarantine centres.

“Hoteliers have realised that the state government has decided to organise the programme virtually this year, keeping in mind the safety of one and all. None of them has objected to the state’s decision,” Sekhose added.

More than two lakh tourists from across the globe attend the 10-day gala every year.

Several top leaders, including former president Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and diplomats of foreign countries have graced the annual carnival in the past. Modi, dressed in traditional attire, had attended the festival in 2014, months after he took oath as the prime minister.

Nagaland has reported 9,455 COVID-19 cases so far, of which 48 have died.

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