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Photos: Relive Some of the Best Moments from Hornbill Music Festival 2019, Nagaland

This year’s event took place earlier this month

Arpito Gope Dec 27, 2019

The Tetseo Sisters with A.R.Rahman and the Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio.

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Bengaluru folk-rock band Swarathma performing at Hornbill 2019.

Hornbill Music Festival had 50 plus bands performing, hundreds of artists and musicians, dancers, and hundreds of volunteers, officials, security personnel, etc. Bands not only from Bengaluru, New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities played but also from Hungary, London and other nations. Also, add to that nearly five lakh tourists over 10 days and you easily have India’s biggest music and cultural festival.

Hornbill is a frenzy of activity and events all over Kohima with gigs happening in every café and live venue beside the large concerts at Kisama Heritage Village. Also, the festivities and the proximity to Xmas push people to decorate and light up their Christmas tree. Every day more and more lights appeared in the nightscape of Kohima as I looked down on the city from Jotoma. With 98 percent of Naga people identifying themselves as Christians, Xmas is one of the most festive times in Nagaland.

A.R. Rahman’s presence at the closing ceremony elevated the festival to a new high. There had to be a salute to India’s revered music maestro and it came in the form of the closing song of the evening. A well-choreographed dance to his Academy Award winning track “Jai Ho.”

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A stone gate which is made narrow and also has a right angle turn inside to slow down enemy attacks and to restrict them. Jotsoma Village is one of the largest villages in the vicinity and is a four-kilometer drive up from Kohima. The unique thing about Hornbill Festival is one can discover another world, traditions, stories and people rich with a cultural heritage that is unlike any other in any other state of India.

Kisama Heritage village is like a melting pot of Naga culture, past, present and future. A Naga elder watches a band on stage with tourists and young music lovers.

With 16 major tribes residing in Nagaland, it is the most linguistically diverse state in India with 14 languages and 17 dialects. When all those different colors, sounds and stories assemble in the scenic amphitheater at Kisama Heritage Village, its an out of the world experience.

Curated music and dance from the different tribes are picked to give the lakhs of visitors a taste of Naga culture.

Weaving is a common practice amongst most tribes. Beautiful handwoven shawls, jackets and scarfs woo visitors to pick some up for home and for the biting cold of Kohima where temperatures during Hornbill dropped to as low as seven degrees.

New Delhi musician Sanjeeta Bhattacharya.

Ticket to Hornbill has been built as a platform to identify bands who will perform at The Big Stage, which is the last four days at Hornbill Music Festival at Dimapur. Structured as a competition, it was held in every district of Nagaland and also in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. It threw up very interesting artists and bands. Sanjeeta Bhattacharya won many hearts and heaps of praise with her stunning vocal range and prowess. Other artists like The Teaspoon Project and The Delhi Public School left the audience gasping for more.

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Hornbill festival is a completely eco-friendly, plastic-free festival. It was heartening to see that there was absolutely no use of plastic in any place, be it Kohima or Dimapur. In Dimapur, one of the bands had brought a plastic bottle on stage. A senior official standing with me promptly got it removed saying that all the fantastic effort would come to naught for that one plastic bottle.

All photos by Arpito Gope.

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