Nagaland Festivals

Nagaland Festivals add to the color and the rich cultural heritage of the state. Nagaland is a land of many festivals. It is inhabited by 16 main tribes. Some of the tribes that live in the state are the Kukis, the Changs, the Angamis, the Aos, the Konyaks, the Kacharis, the Chakhesangs, the Sumis, the Lothas, the Pochurys etc. All these tribes have their unique culture, tradition, customs and festivals. Throughout the year Nagaland celebrates various tribal festivals. All the tribes of Nagaland have their unique and indigenous festivals.

As agriculture is the main source of income for the people of Naga society, most of the festivals revolve round agriculture. They deeply believe in the blessing of Nature. Some religious and spiritual sentiments are interlinked with the rites and rituals of the festivals. They believe in the Supreme Being who is recognized with a variety of names in different Naga dialects. During these festivals, the Village Shaman sacrifices to appease the Gods. They pray for a bountiful harvest and the happiness of the community.

Horn Bill Festival

The Horn Bill Festival of Nagaland represents the cultural extravaganza of the northeast Indian state. The Nagaland festival provides tourists the opportunity to glimpse of the festive celebrations of the state. The festival starts in the first week of December every year and it continues for a week. Nagaland is the land of festivals with one festival following the other all through the year. Even the name of the festival is symbolic; it is named after the bird hornbill, which has a strong impact in the culture and the folklore of most of the tribal communities of the state. Troupes from various tribes of Nagaland come to the festival and participate in the week long festivity. They perform traditional dances, play musical instruments, sing folk songs, and play a variety of games and sports. Various traditional forms of art are also exhibited in the festival including paintings, wood carvings, bamboo works and sculptures by modern Naga artists. The festival continues until the evening when musical concerts are held. This festival plays a vital role in uniting the diverse culture of Nagaland.

The Government of Nagaland in the year 2000 decided to have a common festival for all the tribes of the state. Apart from cultural unity the main purpose behind the festival was to facilitate tourists to witness all the Naga festivals at a time in one place. The Horn Bill Festival is celebrated at Kohima, ,the capital town of Nagaland. The Festival is an ideal way to revive, conserve and sustain the richness of the Naga heritage and culture.

Moatsu Festival

The Moatsu Festival is celebrated in Nagaland by the Ao tribe. It is observed every year in the first week of May. During this Nagaland festival, a number of rituals are performed. After sowing the seeds, the Aos observe Moatsu Mong. The main aim of Moatsu festival is to seek the blessings of Almighty God after completing the various activities, like:
  • Repair and construction of houses by the elders members of the Putu Menden or Village Council
  • Harvesting of old and new Jhum Kheti
  • Cleaning of the Tsubu or Water Wells
  • Marriages in spring season
The best rice-beer is made and the best breed of pigs and cows are slaughtered for the feast during the festival. The womenfolk and men folk heartily participate in eating, dancing, drinking and singing warrior songs. The jovial mood of the festival increases with the performance of singers who sing love songs that glorify the courage and gallantry of the heroes. People celebrate the Moatsu festival by performing peppy songs and dances. The festival is observed for three days from 1st to 3rd of May. Sangpangtu is a symbolic celebration which is observed during the festival. While observing Sangpangtu a bonfire is lit and men and women of the tribe sit around it. During the festival, Ao tribal men and women dress themselves in their best traditional attire and the womenfolk of the community serve the wine and meat. The Righteous man of the tribe who leads his life by the guidance of the Almighty predicts the future of the people.

Nazu Festival

The Nazu festival is celebrated with lot of pomp and show by the Pochury tribe of Nagaland. This Nagaland festival continues for 10 days and is held in the month February. This festival is very significant in the tribal communities as it is observed prior to the sowing of seeds for the year. The mood of the festival is more amusing and recreational than ritualistic. The venue for the Festival is at Phek in Nagaland. While celebrating the Nazu Festival, the tribal folks completely soak themselves in the festive mood

During the Nazu festival various forms of songs and dances are performed by the people of Pochury tribe. The women folk of the Pochury tribe performe the Khupielilie dance. The dancers dress themselves in Ascunyi (Ribbon like head dress), Akhi (Armlet), Kiileniinyi (Long mekhala wrapped from the chest to the calf), Achulhre (worn round the waist), Akhusa (Bangle worn on forearm) and Asker (necklaces). The Khupielilie dancers move their hands and legs in harmony with the rhythm of the songs on the different tunes and beats.

Sekrenyi Festival

The Sekrenyi Festival is celebrated every year in the month of February. It is celebrated by the Angamis tribe of Nagaland in India. On the 25th day of the Angami month of "Kezei", Sekrenyi usually falls. The festival continues for ten days. Sekrenyi is also called Phousnyi by the Angami tribals. The Festival of Sekrenyi is associated with a series of rituals and ceremonies. The first among the series of rituals is "Kizie". The lady of the house takes few drops of rice water from the top of the jug which is called "Zumho", and puts it into leaves and placed them at the three main posts of the house. The first day of the festival starts with all young and old men going to the village well for bathing. During the night, the well is cleaned by two young men. After the cleaning of the well is over, some of the village youths guard the well at night so that no one fetches water after cleaning the well. The womenfolk particularly are not allowed to fetch water from the well. All the young men of the village take a bath in the well in the next morning. The whole process of bathing is carried out in a ceremonial manner by the men of the village.

The most interesting part of the Sekrenyi Festival is the Thekra Hie, where the young people sit together and sing traditional songs. During the celebration jugs of rice beer and meat is served to the participants. The seventh day of the festival is reserved for hunting for the young men.

Tuluni Festival

Tuluni festival is celebrated by the Sumi Naga tribe of Nagaland during the second week of July. The Tuluni festival in Nagaland is celebrated to rejoice the fruitful season and also to pay reverence to Litsabe, deity of fruitfulness and prosperity. The Tuluni festival at Nagaland is celebrated the two different clans, namely Tuku and Swu. Tuku and Swu are the different races of the Sumi Naga tribe, who celebrate the Tuluni festival in their own unique style. Tuluni festival of Nagaland is one of the grand festivals celebrated by the different clans of the Sumi Naga tribe. The festivities of the Tuluni festival begin with the rice beer, which is served in a goblet. The goblet in which wine, known as Tuluni, is served is made up of plantain leaves. The consumption of wine is known as 'Tuluni' or 'Anni'.

The Tuluni festival, the festival of revelry and merry-making, is observed by the young and the old alike. During this Nagaland festival, the young couples of Nagaland exchange gifts with each other. The siblings of the family also participate in the festival and are said to exchange food and meat with each other. The Tuluni festival is also observed by the cultivators of Nagaland. The cultivators of Nagaland slaughter pigs or cows. The meats of the animal are shared among the different members of their family. A group feast is organized, where the farmers enjoy the meat, along with folk songs and ballads.

Yemshe Festival

Yemshe festival is celebrated in Nagaland in the month of October. The Yemshe festival is one of the greatest festivals of the Pochury tribe in Nagaland. Yemshe festival at Nagaland is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of the new harvest season. Yemshe festival in Nagaland is an occasion of fun and frolic. The festival is celebrated on the 5th October, although the festivities begin from the last week in the month of September and continue till the first week in the month of October. During the Yemshe festival, the cultivators are not allowed to harvest in their fields till the festivities are over.

The village spokesperson announces the arrival of this Nagaland festival and on the following day Pouchuries begin the preparations for the festival. The preparations of the festival include the cleaning of the village by the village youths. After the cleaning is finished, the guardian of the family initiates the rituals. The Yemshe festival is a festival that strengthens relationships. The newly wedded couples share their food and eat together, during the festival. The unmarried boys and girls look for a match for themselves during the Yemshe festival of Nagaland.

The Yemshe Festival at Nagaland is observed in Kohima. The festival is divided into two parts Big Yemshe and Small Yemshe. The Big Yemshe implies the renewal of familial ties; whereas the Small Yemshe involves the purification of the house and participating in a grand feast. The grant feast of the Yemshe Festival is observed by a rich family; but, the feast involves a host of rituals.

Sankarni Festival

Nagaland Sankarni Festival is one of the most important festivals of the Zemis. Sankarni festival at Nagaland is said to coincide with Shivaratri, an important festival of the Hindus in India. The Sankarni festival is celebrated for a period of one week with enormous fun and gaiety.

Sankarni festival of Nagaland is celebrated with pomp and show. The festival is marked with a number of celebrations that include eating and drinking, as well as smoking. Cheerful songs are also an integral part of the Nagaland Sankarni festival. Young boys and girls take active part in this Nagaland festival. They eat to their hearts content during the Sankarni puja, a festival of revelry and merriment. For the celebration of the Sankarni festival in Nagaland, the Zemis accept contributions in cash and kind from the families participating in the festival. Contributions are also accepted from the visitors, who participate in the festivities.

Rengma Ngadah Festival

Rengma Ngadah Festival is celebrated by the Rengmas of Nagaland. Rengma Ngadah Festival at Nagaland is observed to mark the auspicious end of the agricultural year at the end of November. Rengma Ngadah festival is a festival of thanksgiving, merry-making and fun. Rengma Ngadah festival at Nagaland is announced by the High Priest of the village. The first day of the festival is marked by the preparation of beer in each of the household in the village. On this day of the festival, a grand feast is organized. The Rengmas of Nagaland collect banana leaves for the feast. The third day is characterized by a typical ritual. The people of the Rengma community visit the graves of their relatives on the third day of this Nagaland festival. The Rengmas offer rice-beer to the dead spirit on this day. The rice-beer prepared for the Rengma Ngadah festival in Nagaland is tasted first by the eldest member of the family.

The male members of the Rengma family gather, early in the morning, in their respective 'Rensi' and eat their meal of meat and beer together. It is noteworthy that the womenfolk are exempted from participating in the rituals of the fourth day of the festival. On the fifth day, each of the male members visits the houses of the people in the village and sing songs related to the 'Ngadah' festival. The sixth and seventh day of the festival are celebrated with gaiety by the Rengma community. On the sixth day, the Rengmas visit each others' house irrespective of their status. The Rengmas go to the forest on the seventh day to collect firewood, vegetables and banana leaves. The Rengma Ngadah festival ends with a grand feast.

Last Updated on : 22/06/2013



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