Since agriculture is one of the main aspects of the state’s economy, many of the festivals of Nagaland revolve around agriculture. The predominant theme of all the festivals of Nagaland remains to be the offering of prayers to a Supreme Being having different names in different Naga dialects. The chief man of the village propitiates the spirit of the Gods with sacrifices for a bountiful yield of crops. Discussed elaborately below are some of the popular festivals of Nagaland:
Hornbill Festival: Hosted between 1st to 10th December at the Naga Heritage Village of Kisama near Kohima in Nagaland, the Hornbill Festival is one of the most largest and important festivals of north east India. The festival is organised by the State Tourism along with the Art and Culture Departments and showcases diversity in their numerous cultural displays.
The festival is named after the hornbill bird since the bird is symbolic in the native folklore and culture of the tribal communities. The Hornbill Festival was started in the year 2000 as a main event to promote tourism in Nagaland and also to unite all the tribes together to share a single platform under one roof.
The week long festivities provide an incredible opportunity for the tourists to experience a variety of local traditions, handicrafts, folk songs, dances, traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition and other customs of Nagaland. Other than these, one of the major highlights of this festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival, which is held at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, where there is an equal representation of performances from both local and international rock bands.
Moatsu Festival: Celebrated annually during the first week of May by the Ao tribe, the Moatsu Festival is a binding festival celebrated after the sowing season is over. Observed only for a brief period of 3 days, the Moatsu Festival is marked by singing and dancing. The main aim of the festival is to seek the blessings of the Supreme Being after a new harvest, or marriage, or cleaning building construction repair or other activities of the type. To celebrate this holy occasion, rice beer is made and feasts are cooked by slaughtering the pigs and cows.
Sekrenyi Festival: Celebrated by the Angami tribe, the Sekreyni Festival is a 10 days long occasion and is one of the popular festivals of Nagaland. Locally known as ‘Phousanyi’ by the tribe people, the Sekreyni Festival is basically a purification festival to wash off past sins. The objective of the festival is to renew by cleansing the metaphorical body and the soul of the village as a whole, and to bring forth unity among all communities of Nagaland. The festival also marks initiation of the young people to adulthood, which is considered to be an identity marker of the Angami.
Bamboo Day Festival: Another of the popular festivals of Nagaland, the Bamboo Day Festival has international significance since it is also celebrated globally. Nagaland is the home of about 5 percent of India's growing stock of bamboo. With about 46 species of wonder grass have been identified, the bamboo and cane crafts of Nagaland have excelled in the present epoch as they are affluent in the tradition of this craft. The main purpose of the Bamboo Day Festival is to increase the awareness of bamboo usage in one’s daily lives and in art. Stalls are set up during the festival to display bamboo art and other products associated to it.
Amongmong Festival: The Amongmong Festival is a pre harvest festival celebrated among the Sangtam tribe. Another of the popular festivals of Nagaland, the Amongmong Festival is celebrated for a period of 6 days. The word Amongmong means unity or togetherness and like the other festivals of Nagaland, the Amongmong Festival also promotes a spirit of brotherhood in community. During this festival, the tribe worship their local deities and they place three cooking stones near the fireplace in order to achieve good harvest, prosperity and health of the tribe.
Tokhu Emong Festival: Celebrated by the Lotha nagas, who are known to be one of the major tribes of the state, the Tokhu Emong is a post harvest festival celebrated in the month of November for a period of almost 9 days. The festival celebrates and encourages unity not only among the Lothas but everyone to promote inter tribal harmony and collaboration. The festival is marked with feasting, merry making, drinking, playing games, singing folk songs and dancing.
Yemshe Festival: The Yemshe Festival is also a pre harvest celebration that is also a major festival of the Pochury tribe. Celebrated in October, this festival is celebrated in 2 phases, namely the Big Yemshe and the Small Yemshe. The Big Yemshe is the time for preparations all around as the village youth cleanses the whole village. The purification of the house and a ritual feast characterizes the Small Yemshe.
Other than these, some of the other festivals of Nagaland include Tuluni, Metemneo, Monyu, Miu, Bushu and Nazu, etc. All of these festivals are celebrated with much enthusiasm and fervour.