My first trip to Nagaland – in fact, to any part of the north-east of India, was in December 2009. I attended the Hornbill Festival, and visited many towns and villages – but a dodgy knee did not allow me to fully explore the land of the misty mountains.
Despite multiple trips to that part of the country since then, it took me over five years to be finally back in Nagaland – for the Aoling Festival. It is the annual ‘Spring Festival’ of the Konyaks, the once feared headhunting tribe of Nagaland who reside in the Mon region. It takes place from April 1 – 6. With the sowing season over, it is a time to celebrate, make merry and welcome the spring. Drinking locally brewed rice beer (there is no alternative anyway; Nagaland is ‘officially’ a dry state), smoking opium and eating heartily are all allowed in excess during the week long festival – all work naturally stops during this period. Guns fire (with real gunpowder, thankfully pointed away from breathing species) all day and night to serve as reminder of the hunting past of an otherwise peaceful tribe.
What attracted me to the festival was the absence of stage managed programs and corporate logos taking over the landscape – in other words, it is as authentic as it gets. I was with real people living in their real world celebrating their real occasions. It also meant I did not have any comfortable tourism infrastructure waiting for me. For all the hardship, it felt good to be only one of a handful of outsiders witnessing the festivities.
There is lots more I want to share – and you must be curious too. Will share the same over a series of posts – stay tuned.
#AJontheRoad #365TravelDays #AolingFestival #Nagaland #Konyak. Follow all posts at http://kunzum.com.