By Special Correspondent
Kohima/Guwahati, December 1: The 18th edition of the Hornbill festival, known as the festival of festivals, kicked off today at the Naga Heritage Village in the presence of the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind who was the Chief Guest.
Also present were the Governor of Nagaland, P.B. Acharya and the Chief Minister of Nagaland, T.R. Zeliang who were the chief host and host respectively. The 10 days festival is being organised by the Department of Tourism in collaboration with other departments.
Addressing the gathering, President said that the past half-century has been one of both achievements and difficulties for Nagaland and today Nagaland is at the edge of making history after years of insurgency, there is hope with the support of the people of the state, civil society institutions and all stakeholders, there is an opportunity for lasting peace and congratulated all the Naga groups for coming so far.
Kovind was confident that a final agreement – one that is fair to all and meets the expectations and aspirations of all – will be reached soon. The President further extends his warm greetings and best wishes as Nagas celebrate 54 years of statehood for Nagaland and the inauguration of the Hornbill Festival 2017.
In his maiden visit to Nagaland Kovind pointed out that the Hornbill Festival is the perfect showcase of the rich Naga culture and traditions, preserved over the years in the form of music, dance and food and the Hornbill Festival at Kisama and the International Music Festival represent the diversity of Naga society as having the best of traditional dance and music and the best of modern musicians and artists.
Governor, P. B. Acharya who was the chief host of the festival while wishing the people on the celebration of the Statehood day and Hornbill festival was hopeful of an early settlement of Naga political issue further appeal to the NSCN (K) to join in the process in order to pave a way for final settlement to the protracted Naga political issue so that Permanent solution should boost progress and development in the state.
In his speech, Chief Minister, T. R. Zeliang while extending appreciation to the President’s maiden visit to Nagaland also appealed to carry forward the message to the Government of India for the imperative need to resolve the protracted Naga political problem before the ensuing State Assembly Elections. He also expressed that Nagaland is a landlocked state and strongly felt that road and air connectivity has to be greatly strengthened to achieve physical integration with the mainland and through India’s Act East Policy – physical, emotional and economic integration of the northeastern region with mainland India can have a bright future.
He further urged the government of India to be sympathetic and understanding in regard to providing the required road and air connectivity as this is an area where the state, left on its own cannot achieve much. While several road projects have been sanctioned and work for them are underway, there was a great need to improve the air connectivity and has been requesting Air India, Indigo and other airlines to have a flight to Delhi from Dimapur via Guwahati but it has not materialised so far, he added.
The first day of the festival witnessed Cultural extravaganza displayed by different cultural troupes while various department put up stalls displaying their products.
Edited by: Arnab Jyoti Das