The Indira Gandhi stadium here at at the Naga Heritage village Kisama in Kohima is the toast of the day on December 2 where as much as 80 racers from UK, Japan, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Myanmar will be on their top gears for the second consecutive Hornbill International Car Rally. The Rs. 15 lakh competition being organised as the part of the seven-day annual Hornbill festival of Nagaland is poised to be the tourism promotion extravaganza for Nagaland. The rally is jointly sponsored by the Nagaland government and J K Tyres.
Dubbed as the “Festival of Festivals”, the Hornbill festival began here in Kohima on Friday, December 1. The event with the theme “Unity in Culture” showcases the entire gamut of Naga life and culture under a single roof for the visitors. The tribal state has already seen surge in the inflow of domestic and foreign tourists to the state with the start of the Hornbill festival. Some 500-odd foreign tourists are expected to participate in this year’s Hornbill Festival. That might be an insignificant number for someone from Sikkim or Assam but that’s quite a number for the insurgency hit Nagaland where a thousand odd foreigner tourists come in an entire year.
Being a late starter in focusing on tourism, it was only in 1981, that the Department of Tourism came on its own in Nagaland. However, Nagaland’s tourism resources are immense. Its hill tribal history, culture and the mystic customs has been the source of great curiosity for people from India and abroad. This land of charm and diverse landscape is yet to be fully tapped.
The ongoing Hornbill festival aims to set Nagaland’s tourism track record straight. The state government has gone all out to make it a big thing. Apart from cultural extravaganza, the festival has interesting contests like Naga king chilly eating competition and Hornbill National Rock Competition. The cultural exposition also has Konyak fire eating demonstration, pork fat eating competition, literature fest, global film fest, Hornbill ball, choral panorama, North East India drum ensemble, fashion night, Naga wrestling competition, archery competition, Miss Nagaland contest and photo competition as new additions this year, TOI reported.
The festival will see a World War-II vintage jeep rally once again this year to spread the message of peace and futility of violence. And the state is not doing this without a reason. In the year 1944, a decisive gruesome ground battle of WW-II was fought in Kohima between the Allied Force and Invading Japanese army where thousands of friends and foes fell.
Friday, December 1, will see participants from different NE states present various folk dances of North East India. The literature fest will be held on the fifth day. Writers and publisher of the tribal state can present their works during this. More than a dozen authors and publishers have already given their consent to participate, told Himato Zhimomi, commissioner and secretary of tourism at the Directorate of Tourism in Nagaland. Two new books on Birds of Nagaland will be released during the fest.
The opening of Hornbill festival also coincides with the Nagaland statehood day on December 1.