By SHYAMHARI CHAKRA
Following the footsteps of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura is set to launch its own Hornbill Festival – designed to celebrate and highlight nature and culture – on February 8 at the picturesque Baramura Hills in West district.
Hornbill, the beautiful but endangered bird, found in tropical forest regions of Africa and Asia, are seen in in the North East, Kerala and Karnataka. However, the Indian hornbill assumes so much of cultural relevance for the tribal people of the North East that the Arunachal Pradesh government has declared it as its “State-Bird”.
While Nagaland has been hosting the annual festival since 19 years over a period of ten days, Arunachal Pradesh followed it five years ago with a three-day event. Tripura Government has planned to host it for two days.
The indigenous people of Tripura consider the bird as a gift of God and hence they don’t hunt them unlike in other states. The Forest Department claims that there are more than 300 hornbills spotted across the state. To protect the vanishing species, the Department conducts awareness camps in the villages and has set up a Hornbill viewpoint at Baramura hills where fruit-bearing trees are being grown to ensure enough food and habitation for them – after hunting, deforestation has caused extinction of hornbills.
The Baramura Hornbill Festival is an ambitious project of Tripura Government that has roped in its tourism, culture and forest departments together to attract visitors from India and abroad.
The 19-year-old annual Hornbill Festival of Nagaland government – that has been the model for the other sister states of the North East – has been the most attractive tourism event of the North East so far. The President of India Mr. Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated its 18th edition in 2017 that speaks volumes of its importance.
During December 1 to10 every year, the Naga heritage village of Kisama, situated about 12 kilometers far from the capital city of Kohima, hosts this colourful cultural extravaganza in which almost all aspects of Nagaland’s life, culture and tradition is showcased.
Meanwhile Arunachal Pradesh has declared Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival – named after the place to highlight the pivotal role played by the Nyishi tribe in hornbill conservation at Pakke Tiger Reserve – as its “State Festival”.