The State of Nagaland was formally inaugurated on December 1st, 1963, as the 16th State of the Indian Union. It is bounded by Assam in the West, Myanmar (Burma) on the east, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam on the North and Manipur in the South. The State consists of seven Administrative Districts, inhabited by 16 major tribes along with other sub-tribes. Each tribe is distinct in character from the other in terms of customs, language and dress.
It is a land of folklore passed down the generations through word of mouth. Here, music is an integral part of life; folk songs eulogising ancestors, the brave deeds of warriors and traditional heroes; poetic love songs immortalising ancient tragic love stories; Gospel songs that touch your soul (should you have a religious bend of mind) or the modern tunes rendered exquisitely to set your feet a-tapping.
Each of the 16 odd tribes and sub-tribes that dwell in this exotic hill State can easily be distinguished by the colourful and intricately designed costumes, jewellery and beads that they adorn. The present generation of Nagas have ventured into fashion designing in a big way, reproducing fabrics that represent the ancestral motifs blended with modern appeal. Indeed, it is a beautiful mix of the past with the present,a paradise for those who are into fashion designing. This is an affluent fashion station of the East.
The traditional ceremonial attire of each tribe is in itself, an awe inspiring sight to behold; the multicoloured spears and daos decorated with dyed goats hair, the headgear made of finely woven bamboo interlaced with orchid stems, adorned with boar's teeth and hornbill's feathers, elephant tusk armlets. In days of yore every warrior had to earn each of these items through acts of valour, to wear them.
Nature could not have been kinder to Nagaland, sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of the East; the exquisitely picturesque landscapes, the vibrantly colourful sunrise and sunset, lush and verdant flora, this is a land that represents unimaginable beauty, moulded perfectly for a breath taking experience.
Its people belong to the Indo-Mongoloid stock, whose ancestors lived off nature's abundant gifts, blessed with sturdy formidable dispositions. Above all, the people here are warmhearted and extremely hospitable.
Nagaland is blessed with salubrious climate throughout the year and one can visit it anytime. If one is looking for a quiet getaway, from the hustle and bustle of city life, it provides the right ambience; as life here is laidback and slow - providing a tension free life.
For the adventurous and the intrepid, Nagaland is an ideal place for trekking, rock climbing, jungle camping and offers limitless exploration possibilities in its lush and verdant sub-tropical rain forests which are also a treasure trove of a plethora of medicinal plants.
Nagas, by nature, are lovers of fun and frolic and here life is one long festival.
The Nagas with their joie de vivre, dance and songs are a part and parcel of all their festivities. Most of their dances are performed with a robust rhythm.
Colourful life and culture - Tribes and festivals
Spirits that roam the jungle and villages, the fertility of mother earth; social bonding among communities, purification and rejuvenation are the main elements that form the souls of the festivals of the Naga people. Each tribe that inhabit the land has got its own custom and this translates into a festival. Before travelling, every traveller should arrange his/ her calendar, for the first festival in Nagaland takes place in January and the last (or is the last recorded?) December- no matter what the season is, some festival is always round the corner.
Main Festival: Sekrenyi
Period: February: 25-27
The festival of the Angami tribe is celebrated in the month of February and falls on the 25th day of the Angami month of Kezei. It is a festival of purification with feasting and singing. The most interesting part of the Sekrenyi Festival is the thekra hie. The thekra hie is a part of the festival when the young people of the village sit together and sing traditional songs throughout the day.
Main Festival: Ngada
Period: November: 27
The Rengmas celebrate eight days of Ngadah festival towards the end of November, just after harvest. It is the festival of thanksgiving and rejoicing. This festival also marks the end of the agricultural year. The Village High Priest (Phensengu) announces the date of commencement of the festival at the top of his voice, so that the villagers can prepare themselves for the festival.
Main Festival: Hega
Period: February 10-15
The Hega festival is one of the most important and the biggest festival among the Zeliang community. It falls in the month of February every year. It is the festival invoking the almighty God to shower his blessings upon his people with richness, luck and courage. It is also a festival of joy, rest and get-together.On this day people pray to almighty God for protection and guidance.
On this festival young couples are united for their future. This is announced earlier and all the preparation are done before-hand. The festival begins with a variety of programs and merrymaking.
Main Festival: Mimkut
Period: January 17
Mimkut is the harvest festival of the Kukis. Kukis of Nagaland celebrate this festival on 17th Kuki month of Tolbol (January) every year. The celebration lasts one week. Besides Mimkuut, Kukis celebrate Chapphou Kuut Chavang Kuut as well as other smaller festivals.It is believed that Mimkuut and other festivals, came into being from the fact that in order to appease Thilha (Demon) the people sacrifice and at the same time they also believed in the existence of a Supreme God whom they call “Chung Pathen” (Heavenly God). To get the blessings of such gods the village Medicine man (Thempu) would sacrifice fowls to propitiate the spirit of the Demon-god by performing a series of rituals and prayer.
Main Festival: Bushu
Period: Last week of January
The Kacharis celebrates a number of festivals in a year. Amongst them the most important one is Bushu or Bushu Jiba which is widely celebrated by the Dimasa kacharis The Bushu is basically a post harvest festival and usually falls in the month of January every year after the hard earned grains of paddy are harvested, thrashed and stored in the granaries. Although the exact date and place of the festival is not generally fixed, people see to it that it is celebrated when there is moonlight in the nights because it is believed to be auspicious. Recently, the people have decided to celebrate the festival in the last week of January.
Main Festival: Thsukhenyie & Sukrenyu
Period: May 6 & January 15 respectively
Tsukhenye Festival is also an important festival for the Chakhesang. Earlier it was usually celebrated at the end of the 3rd lunar month of March. But now it is being observed on 6th May. A new year of activities begins with the arrival of spring. All sports and games and other youth activities which began after the harvest will cease with the closing of the festival. The festival last for four days. On the first morning, the village priest will offer sacrifice with the first rooster that crowed that morning, Also, early that morning, all male folks come to a designated well ( where only male folks are allowed ) and purify themselves by bathing. After the bath is performed they invoke the Almighty for strength, long life, good harvest and other.
Sukrenye : It is the most important festival and is celebrated on 15the January. During the festival the boys and girls are sanctified through religious ceremonies and rituals. As a matter of fact, “SUKRENYE” covers eleven days starting from “NYEDE” and within the five days including “NYEDE” necessary preparations are made for the rest of six day of festival period.
Main Festival: Yemshe
Period: October 5
October is the month of festivity which every Pochury anxiously awaits, every year to celebrate their greatest festival Yimshe. Yimshe is the festival of welcoming the new harvest and blessing. All the Pochuries, young and old, rich and poor, celebrate this festival with great pomp and gaiety anticipating a good harvest which they deserve after a year’s hard labour under scorching sun and merciless rain. Yimshe is observed only on the 5th October keeping in tune with the final days of the traditional observance of the festival.
Main Festival: Naknyulem
Period: July 13
Naknyülüm is celebrated by the Chang tribe in the month of July. On this day there are exchanges of gifts and food items amongst friends and relatives. Meat, wine and freshly packed bread are abundantly used. Games like Top spinning, tug – of – war, high jump, long jump, climbing of oiled pole and jumping and grapping big lumps of well cooked meat hung in rows along a bamboo rope are played. The womenfolk play on the Kongkhim. They too compete with each other with the instruments. Men and women, young and old, all engage themselves in feasting and merrymaking the whole day but do not indulge in dancing.
Main Festival: Moatsu
Period: May 2
The Aos observe Moatsü Mong after the sowing is done and the mother earth begins to show the sign of fertility. The festival marked by vigorous songs and dances, merrymaking and fun is now observed only for three days from 1 to 3 May. The natural customary practice of the fore-fathers was competing in making the best rice beer and rearing the best possible pigs and cows to be slaughtered during the festival. The womenfolk would weave the best of traditional garments and adorn themselves with all their fineries. They would join the men folk in dancing, eating and drinking and composing warrior’s song. Singing songs in praise of the lover and the village as a whole was done and the older men folk would encourage the young people to be bold and heroic to defend and protect them from enemies as head-hunting was practiced during the time of fore-fathers.
Main Festival: Aoling
Period: April 13
District: Mon.The entire Konyak community in Nagaland, observes Aoleang Monyu in the first week of Aoleang lee (April) every year since time immemorial. Aoleang is observed after completing of sowing seeds in the new fields and also to mark the end of the old year and to welcome the new year beginning with spring when a riot of flowers at every hue start to bloom.
It is a time to ask Almighty God for a bountiful harvest of crops in that very year. The Aoleang Monyu is spread over six days. Each day has separate name and different significances : (1) Hoi Lai Yah Nyih (2) Yin Pho Nyih (3) Yin Mok Shek Nyih (4) Lingnyu Nyih (5) Lingha Nyihand (6) Lingshan Nyih.
Main Festival: Monyu
Period: April 1
The Monyu festival is celebrated on the month of April every year soon after the sowing season beginning from 1st to 6th April. Monyu is the time to bid farewell to the ongoing year and herald the dawn of the New Year. A day or two prior to the festival the green signal of the dawn of festival is made by beating log drums with a distinct tune synchronized purposely for the event, traditionally named “LAN NYANGSHEM”.The main feature of the Monyu is the occasion when the male members of the family show love and renewal of affectionate feelings towards their married daughters or sisters by presenting them the purest of the rice beer and specially prepared food. Such conduct reflects the general status of the Phom women that “they are respected and honoured”.
Main Festival: Miu
Period: May 5
This festival is held in the first week of May every year. One of the main significances of this festival is to build cordial relations and to forge close-knit relations between the maternal uncle and his sister’s off springs i.e. nephews and nieces. It is during this festival that the maternal uncle offers a very special prayer by invoking the supernatural Deity to grant good health, prosperous life and power over enemy to his nephews and nieces.
Main Festival: Metumniu
Period: August 8
The Yimchungers celebrate METUMNIU festival from 4-8 of August every year after the harvest of millet. This festival is connected with the prayers for the soul of the departed souls. It is a sentimental ceremony for those dear ones who left for their heavenly abode during the year. An elder known as “KHEANPURU”, after due prayers, inaugurates the festival. The festival is spread over 5 days and has separate for the days. Viz.. SHITO, ZHIHTO, ZUMTO, KHEHRESUK and SHERESUK.
Main Festival: Mongmong
Period: September 3
The Sangtams have about 12 festivals spreading over the calendars year including some special functions. Expect certain gennas, all the festivals are concerned with food production, blessing and prosperity. MONGMONG is one of the most important festival of the Sangtam. The predominant theme of the festival is the worship of the god of the house and the three cooking stone in the fireplace.
Main Festival: Tokhu Emong
Period: November 7
Tokhü Emong is the harvest festival of the Lothas. With the harvest done and the granaries full, the people now take a respite from the toils and sweat and settle down to enjoy the fruits of one’s hard labour. Tokhü Emong is celebrated on 7th November, every year. During this festival, the entire village takes part in the celebration. Every household have food and drink prepared for the feast. Friends, families, neighbours are invited to each other’s house and this continues for days. The main features of the feast are community songs, dances, feast, fun and frolic.
Main Festival: Tuluni
Period: July 8
Tuluni is a festival of great significance. This festival is marked with feast as the occasion occurs in the bountiful season of the year. Drinking rice – beer indispensably forms a part of the feast. Rice – beer is served in goblet made with the leaf of plantain. This wine is called TULUNI. Therefore, consumption of the wine is called “TULUNI”. Tuluni is also called “ANNI” the word of which denotes the season of plentiful crops. This mid – year (JULY) festival is the greatest and most fervent moment for the Sumi Community of Nagaland. During this festival, the betrothed exchange basketful of gifts with meals. The fiancé is invited to a grand dinner at the fiancé’s residence. Even siblings of the families of both the bride and groom exchange dinner and packed food and meat.