The 23rd Edition of the Hornbill Festival began at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama on Thursday with Vice President of India, Jagdeep Dhankhar as the Chief Guest.
The Vice President of India in his greetings expressed that he was thrilled, excited and captivated by the energy of the Naga youth.
He said Naga culture and the memories of his stay in Nagaland would be embedded in his heart even in the days ahead.
He praised the rich Naga songs, dances, crafts, cuisines etc and expressed his happiness over the vibrant Naga culture and traditions.
Jagdeep Dhankhar said, "India is a land of culture and said that the place "Kisama", where the Annual Hornbill festival takes place, could become the culture of cultures. Nagaland has been endowed with scenic beauty and the pattern of its landscaping is captivating because of which he said the State has a great potential in the tourism industry. The Nagas being very hospitable, love and affectionate to their guests and outsiders could boost the tourism industry in a big way."
He also mentioned the rich horticulture produce of the State like Kiwi, Pineapple, Coffee, etc.
Dhankhar also congratulated the State Government for electing the first Naga woman MP to Rajya Sabha, Phangnon Konyak, which he said is an example of exemplifying women's empowerment.
He also appreciated the State for having the lowest crime rate against women in the Country.
Host of the Hornbill Festival, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio stated that the Hornbill Festival exemplifies the Naga Way of Life, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the Naga people along with the rest of the northeastern states, showcasing the unity and oneness under a spirit of solidarity.
He added that it is aimed at protecting, preserving and promoting the culture and heritage of the people while creating opportunities for economic growth and employment generation.
Rio said that the Hornbill festival is a symbol of Brand Nagaland and the emerging Naga Soft Power. The cultural ambassadors representing the tribes of Nagaland and from the different states of the northeast and even the mainland are the heart and soul of the Hornbill Festival, he added.
The Nagaland Chief Minister said that the people of Nagaland aspire for genuine peace, and are hopeful that with the successful conclusion of the peace process, Nagas will be able to play a contributory role in the interest of humanity on the global stage.
Rio also welcomed and extended his appreciation to all the tourists for visiting the State and hopes that they will be ambassadors of Nagaland.
Appreciating the Government of India for recognizing the Hornbill Festival as one of the premier and major events for performing artists in India, the Governor of Assam and Nagaland, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi said that as Nagaland celebrates the 60th Statehood Day, it is a joyous and blessed moment to celebrate the Festival of Festivals - Hornbill Festival and Statehood Day in one accord. Impressed by the colourful array of Naga costumes on display, and calling Nagaland an enchanted state, the Governor said because of the unique culture of the Nagas, the Hornbill Festival attracts so many guests from throughout the country and around the world.
Governor Mukhi said that the Government of India under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to ensuring the development of the region, and we, as beneficiaries, should make up our minds and create a conducive atmosphere for welcoming the new dawn for a peaceful and progressive Nagaland.
He urged the people to look back and introspect at what has been achieved over the last 60 years, and what ground remains to be covered.
He expressed confidence that a final agreement - one that is fair to all and meets the expectations and aspirations of all, will be reached soon. As the State celebrates this year's Hornbill Festival, he appealed to everyone to share the feeling of oneness, love and forgiveness.
Greetings were delivered by Honoured Guests, Ambassador of France to India, Emmanuel Lenain; Trade Commissioner for South Asia & British Deputy High Commissioner for Western India, Alan Gemmell and Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O'Farrell Ao. Festival Host, Advisor, Tourism and Art & Culture, H. Khehovi Yeputhomi pronounced the vote of thanks.
The Tribal Guest of the occasion was Yeshusu Tureng of Porba Village, Phek District. (ANI)