Magical Nagaland in the wake of Hornbill Festival
Vishü Rita Krocha
[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ust a couple of months back, we had to go through the ordeal of travelling on bumpy, potholed roads, not sparing even the supposedly best roads in town, taking Kohima for instance, which we also say is the mirror of Nagaland. But most of these condemning thoughts were silenced just a few weeks before the stretched ten day long Hornbill Festival ensued.
I would definitely say, the drainage construction somewhere along the route in the state capital (although a lone sight) was quite an admirable thing to start with. But my hopes for more lasting highways began to vanish when the more prominent lanes obviously took the VIP seating and we are left to be content with the unforgivable roads, not quite surprisingly.Take for instance, the poor Don Bosco School road that would take you through Kenouzou and Tinpati. This particular stretch of road continues to suffer step-motherly treatment (Blame it on my memory, I can’t remember the last time it was repaired or blacktopped). Some may even say winter’s a consolation to traverse in this route because monsoon sure does poses a bigger challenge. I feel even more for the students who have to conquer it every working day, consuming dust in winter and battling dirty splashes during the rainy season. But then again, I am sure this lane is just one of those many roads which are barely paid attention to.
Anyway, so, all is still well with Hornbill Festival, as we still manage to make Nagaland shine her best, year after year, during this time of the year. If you noticed the box cutting road area in Kohima, I am sure you’ll agree with me, it’s Magical! I missed the sight of flowers being planted but the next thing I knew, they were already blooming in colours. So vibrantly! And so efficient were those responsible for it, that I began to think if we all did things with such competency and urgency, then our already beautiful Nagaland could be paradise on earth.
I am pretty sure people who come visiting Nagaland in increasing number, leave with the feeling that “all is well” with our state. That, we have much better roads than most parts of the country perhaps, because somehow, we cover them all up with new toppings, that only goodness knows the length of time these roads are going to last us.
And while the talk about roads is just one issue, there are several other things and developments that magically take place as a prelude to the festival of festivals. You see a lot of welcome changes. Overnight. Our society wears a totally new look! Perhaps, even our lifestyles begin to change during this period. And I wonder what they think. I wonder if the tourists think we are better off than so many people around the world.
Why can’t we be just us? Simply us! Why do we have to put on a show. A show that does not quite portray the real us, and one that deceives visitors into developing an opinion that isn’t quite true. I’d rather wish they find us the way we have always lived, traverse the deplorable roads that we endure throughout the year, enjoy our culture and our way of life just the way we live our normal daily life….but of course, for festivity’s sake, we ought to add more colours to it by way of exhibiting our cultural songs, dances, indigenous games, our local cuisines and specialties etc. But that certainly does not include the things and basic facilities we can’t do without throughout the year.
On the other hand, it is true that the Hornbill Festival is a great platform for exhibiting one’s talents. Agreed that some of them get to showcase their songs, their dances, their art works, their entrepreneurial skills, etc, but how many young people really get this opportunity is altogether a different question.
Another known fact is the increasing number of accidents during this period of time, which is the saddest of them all. Rash and drunken driving automatically seem to accelerate when the festival begins. How do we explain such a thing? Even ironically so, when we have, all along, labeled Nagaland as a dry state.
Also, if the festival is so much about preservation and promotion of Naga art, culture and tradition, then the literature section got the worst share. So much has already been written about the poorly organized hornbill literature fest, and only God knows how much heed has been paid to these invaluable thoughts, but if we continue to go at this rate and pace as far as Hornbill Festival is concerned, then the future of literature in Nagaland is hardly promising.
I would like to think the “Hornbill Literature Fest” is a prestigious title, but after my own share of experience, I don’t think it’s all that impressive or important anymore. Because really, you can’t expect a group of government employees, compelled to do their duties in organizing the literature fest without much or absolutely no interest in the word “literature” itself. (Or if they did have the interest, it really didn’t show, quite to the disappointment of those who had a little part to play.) I am pretty certain the fraternity of writers in Nagaland wish for a thriving literature scenario in the state, notwithstanding the fact that writing is such a thankless job! And we are underpaid or not paid at all, most of the time. However still, if we are to promote the Art, Culture and Tradition of Nagaland, we cannot take literature for granted because they all go hand in hand together.
I know for a fact that it takes a lot of hard-work, and involves a lot more people to organize a big festival such as the Hornbill, and that it’s also easier to criticize than to actually do it, but it always helps to stop and reflect, to weigh the pros and cons, to look back and see where we are going wrong, and perhaps, in the next, we’ll be on our way to taking bigger steps. Steps that are more part and parcel of our very way of life, and not magically made-up overnight.