Diginaties, visitors and artistes at the inaugural programme of the Hornbill Festival on Sunday.

The Hornbill Festival got off to a colourful start with spectacular performances by different artistes depicting the ethnicity of Naga tribes on Sunday.

A total of 45142 tourists, 407 foreign and 4954 domestic witnessed the inaugural event at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, near Kohima.

Nagaland governor RN Ravi inaugurated the 10-day event which entered its 20th edition.

In his address, Ravi paid rich tribute to the Naga leaders, who under extremely challenged circumstances secured the Nagaland state with special status.

He exhorted the people not to forget the leaders as history has not been kind to those who ignore or forget their heroes and martyrs.

Ravi also praised the rich cultural heritage of Naga tribes and underscored the need to correct certain uncharitable distortions to Nagas’ history by some colonial administrators.

He wondered how the Naga tribes with their centuries old village republics efficiently managed their social, economic, political and strategic needs for so long.

Ravi said a new dawn for Nagaland was breaking and urged the two million people of the state to help build a new Nagaland free from fear of gun and corruption, a new Nagaland based on the foundation of transparency, accountability and rule of law.

The governor also urged the people to strengthen the spirit of unity so palpable during the Hornbill Festival.

Hornbill festival is an annual tourism promotional event organised by the state government. It is a cultural extravaganza to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage.

The governor and chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who is the host of the festival, formally inaugurated the festival of festivals by sounding the traditional gong.

On the first day of the festival, Hipfest, artist corner, historical heritage archives, craftscape, kids carnival, exhibition-cum-sale of local indigenous products of handloom and handicraft, agri products stall, hortiscape, sculpture stall, traditional evening park, etc. were inaugurated.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com