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Music Festivals of India: Northeast Series

As they say, the mountains sing, people from the hills are believed  to have a natural gift for music, rhythm and soulful creations. The Northeast, as we refer to the seven sister states nestled in the county’s northeastern mountain ranges, is magical in several ways starting from the breathtaking scenic views to indigenous cultures and mores. However the region stays majorly neglected when we talk of the country as a whole, with a major part of the mainstream unaware of its distinct existence. For the sensitive and curious, it is very often music festivals  that pave a popular commercialized gateway to the hills, home to these unfamiliar lands. Northeast India is home to some splendid music fests and we start our series on youth music scenes in the country by talking about these special lands amidst the hills.

We start with the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland. The Hornbill is also referred to as the ‘Festival of Festivals’. Held in December every year it was first organised in the year 2000. The festival was initiated by the State Tourism and Art and Culture Department of Nagaland. Taking in view the huge distance between popular perception and notice of the mainstream of the country and the extravaganza of traditions and multi diverse cultures of Nagaland, the festival was organized to revive and protect Naga culture from fading into decadence and a loss to modernization. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in the festival and visitors can experience Naga culture through food, songs, dance and other performance based arts. The festival aims at creating an understanding of the people and cultures of Nagaland for people all over the country by forging connections through art and music.

Nagaland is home to several native tribes who have their own indigenous festivals handed over generations and celebrated with a lot of fervour and dedication ,like the Mimkut by the Kuki tribe in January, Bushu by the Kacharis in January, Sekrenyi by the Angamis in February and several others. The Hornbill Festival provides a breathing ground for all these indigenous cultures to find a shared roof of display to the outer world.

The festival sees events like fashion shows, beauty contests, performance of cultural medleys in both dance and music, indigenous games, Naga wrestling and even motor rallies. Among the commercial aspects a major highlight is the exhibition of traditional Naga morungs, the sale of art and crafts, breathtaking flower shows and stalls for herbal medicine. From 2007, the Hornbill National Rock Contest  was added to the list of events. The rock concert is a big, big attraction with bands from all over the country gearing up to take part judged by the most renowned national music personalities. The Hornbill Rock Contest is the only rock contest in the country to last a week’s duration.

If you want a heavenly getaway for your winters, (once the COVID crisis is over by this December hopefully) now you know your perfect destination.

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