KOHIMA: The 24th edition of the Hornbill Festival, renowned as the 'Festival of Festivals,' kicked off with a burst of color as thousands flocked to the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama. La Ganesan, Nagaland's governor and chief host, emphasized that beyond showcasing Naga heritage, the festival embodies unity in diversity.
Governor Ganesan expressed that the Hornbill Festival is not merely a cultural display but an invitation for the world to immerse in Naga hospitality, witness warrior dances, resonate with ancient folksongs, and appreciate traditional attire weaves. He highlighted that the festival is a testament to the enduring spirit of the Naga people and their deep-rooted traditions.
Nagaland's chief minister and festival host, Neiphiu Rio, stated that the Hornbill Festival symbolizes the culmination of Nagaland's tourism slogan, the "Land of Festivals," representing the unity, diversity, and oneness of the Naga people. Rio welcomed guests from across India and abroad, describing the festival as offering a ringside view of the land, its inhabitants, and their culture.
Rio emphasized that the Hornbill Festival has evolved into a national and international sensation, attracting both domestic and international travelers. The current edition stands as a global showcase of cultural richness and diplomatic collaboration, with the United States of America, Germany, and Colombia as prominent partner countries, along with the State of Assam as the Partner State.
US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, commended the beauty of Nagas, extending greetings from 574 native American tribes. British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, praised the festival as a time for happiness, dances, songs, and good times, highlighting the historical connection between the United Kingdom and Nagaland.
Colombian Ambassador to India, Dr. Victor Echeverri Jaramillo, expressed gratitude for the invitation, noting Nagaland's beauty and unity. German Consul General Kolkata, Barbara Voss, felt at home on Naga soil, appreciating the rich culture and heritage.
The opening program featured presentations like "Call of the Hornbill" and "Kisama walk," showcasing traditional music, dance, and arts. On the first day, 16,446 tourists, including 353 foreign tourists, witnessed the festival, highlighting its global appeal.
The Hornbill Festival, a melting pot of traditions, promises a cultural extravaganza that transcends borders and welcomes the world to experience the unique spirit of Nagaland.