The Sixth Annual Hornbill Festival ended with yet another colorful extravaganza at the Naga Heritage Complex, Kisama Village on December 7. The decision taken last year by the DAN government to extend the period of festivities to seven days was definitely a step in the right direction. There is no reason why the festivities should not be stretched beyond the seven days period in the years to come. The management of the event will only improve with experience and this year it has been no exception. Credit should therefore be given to the event managers for successfully orchestrating the entire festival with new features and some welcome additions to the Hornbill menu. Mention in particular must be made of the first ever Hornbill National Rock Contest, which has been well received in particular by the young people. In future such a platform should also be used to address youth related issues in a more visible form.
As far as the origin of the Hornbill Festival goes, its essence as a cultural window to the outside world should not be lost sight of. The rich cultural heritage is no doubt the comparative advantage as far as Nagas are concerned and therefore this aspect has to continue getting the due attention that it deserves. Besides showcasing eco-tourism at its exotic best, the Hornbill Festival because of the congregation of the different tribal communities in Nagaland coming together in unison, this in itself is extremely encouraging and one that will go a long way in celebrating the Nagas common heritage in these troubled times. Such occasions can also be used to build bridges of understanding and to generate a feeling of brotherhood among the participants who have assembled from different regions. It can also be a rare time to interact and share stories of common struggle and aspirations. The unifying force of the Kisama Heritage village against the backdrop of the diversity of tribal hohos present is indeed a significant sight. It also goes to show that there is a strong desire for unity at the people to people level.
The very significance of the Hornbill Festival should be seen in the fact that a cultural link binds the common destiny of the people. Kisama presents a small window of hope for the Naga people. Leaving aside ideological rhetoric and the divisive political agenda, the Hornbill Heritage Village can be used a forum for cultural diplomacy as the first step towards resolving political differences that exists. Non political activities such as cultural exchange programs can be taken up within the Heritage Village. At the end of the day, Kisama provides both an opportunity and a challenge.