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Hornbill Festival: Precautions First

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 01, 2020 11:19 pm

This December is perhaps the quietest that Nagaland has experienced in the last two decades, as the state government was forced to celebrate its Hornbill Festival, which is dubbed as the “festival of festivals” virtually in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, as is the case with most events across the world. During normal times, the weeks leading up to December 1, the first day of the 10-day annual event, are hectic with government departments, organisations and public making arrangements at the main venue – Kisama Heritage Village in Kohima – and other locations, while hundreds of business people and entrepreneurs set up stalls both in the state capital and Dimapur. It takes lots of hard work to make an event of such magnitude happen, and to make it a successful one with no controversies and untoward incidents is even harder. The state had managed to pull it through since its inception in 2000. In fact, it has been getting bigger and better because of people’s active participation until the pandemic halted it this year. Many tourists, both domestic and international, who had been planning to visit the state during this festival, could be left disappointed. Even the antagonists of the event could have a change of heart after witnessing this unusual quietness and feel that something is amiss. But the state government decided to celebrate it online this time considering the fact that the fight against the pandemic is far from over and cases keep increasing in the state. It’s a step in the right direction. Cancellation of the Hornbill Festival may affect thousands of people in the tourism industry, business people, hoteliers etc. but public health can’t be compromised. If an event like Hornbill Festival turns into a superspreader of the disease, the consequences will be far-reaching. So, the government should continue to take utmost precaution while holding big events till a vaccine is available.

Meanwhile, we can utilise this relative quietness to retrospect and analyse the pros and cons of the festival more deeply. This will help the authorities to right the wrongs and boost the tourism industry which has come to a grinding halt since March because of travel restrictions and the risk of contracting as well as spreading the virus. Statistics provided by the department of Tourism informed that a total of 131,526 tourists — 125,949 domestic and 5577 foreign – visited Nagaland in 2019. Out of this, the number of tourists during the Hornbill Festival accounted for 58,599 — 55,584 domestic and 3015 foreign. This clearly indicates that Nagaland is slowly transforming itself into a tourist destination over the years and this opportunity should be tapped. And there is no doubt that many people from across the world identify Nagaland through the Hornbill Festival. It has become one of the most popular festivals in the Northeast today and its popularity will continue to grow because of the opportunity it provides to the visitors to experience Nagas’ unique tradition and rich cultural heritage at one venue in a matter of few days. Thousands of people may miss Hornbill Festival this time but when life returns to normalcy, we can join the festivities again.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 01, 2020 11:19:36 pm