Lesser known Festivals in North-East India

With fast evolving technology, the world is surely changing and making a lot of progress. And the same I can proudly say about my motherland India, which is constantly developing and opening the doors of cross country culture and increasing tourism. Even, north-east India is emerging out as one of the most popular tourist destinations of india with better infrastructure and physical connectivity. However, this ultimate destination with hidden gems and unspoiled beauty also hosts a number of tribal and cultural festivals which not many are aware of. A true manifestation of its rich heritage and traditions, these festivals are sure to give an adrenaline rush to its visitors. Trust me, even though I have been able to visit almost the entire northeast, I am still not able to explore the region’s culture and tradition completely. I have this immense desire to be a part of all north east india’s festivals after attending two of the very famous festivals- Hornbill and Sangai which do takes you closer to the region’s tradition and culture.

Myoko Festival, Arunachal Pradesh

This 10-day celebration is currently on, which makes it a must visit if you wish to witness a traditional tribal festival. Celebrated by the Apatani Tribe in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, this festival is all about prosperity, fertility, purification, and sacrifice. During this festival, a pig is sacrificed after a shaman recites sacred prayers. The Apatani tribe is known to have traditional ecological knowledge of conservation and management of resources. And hence, these people have made Ziro valley a live example where man and environment have harmoniously existed together in today’s time.

When it’s happening in 2018?

20th-30th March (Celebration continues in April)

Aoling Festival, Nagaland

Celebrated in the remote district of mon, Aoling is a festival of the headhunting tribe of Nagaland- The Konyak Nagas.  This tribe is largest of the 17 recognized tribes in Nagaland and so it is interesting to be a part of the same as it would mean knowing the culture and tradition of the Konyaks people. During this festival, the tribal people welcome the spring and pray for the good harvest. This celebration lasts for a week where people wear traditional clothes, hunt, prepare feasts and dance all day long.

When it’s happening in 2018?

The first week of April

Shirui Lily Festival, Manipur

Celebrated for the first time in 2017, Shirui Lily Festival was organised by Manipur Tourism Department. As the name suggests, this festival is all about Shirui Lily, which is also the state flower of Manipur. The flower of Lily is believed to be a kind and protective spirit that rests on Shirui Peak in Manipur and symbolizes prosperity and happy life. This festival hosts a number of events including music, dance, camping and trekking.

When it’s happening in 2018?

24th-28th April

Moatsu Festival, Nagaland

Another festival on the list is the Moatsu Festival which is celebrated by the Ao tribes of Nagaland. It is yet another festival which celebrates the ending of stressful plantation season. The major highlight of this festival includes women serving meat and wine to the men and kids sitting around the fire. Interesting tradition, right?

When it’s happening in 2018?

1st-6th May

Saga Dawa Festival, Sikkim

This festival is celebrated by Mahayana Buddhists in Sikkim and is known to be one of the most important festivals of Buddhists. This festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. On this occasion, Buddhists gather at the monasteries and offer water, incense sticks, and dhog to the Buddha. One can experience the strong influence of Buddhism in this state. Don’t you want to be a part of this north-east India festive feels and experience the buddhist influence on the state at its full core?

When it’s happening in 2018?

20th May-4th June

Ambubachi Mela, Assam

Often known as the Mahakumbh of the East, this festival is hosted by Kamakhya Temple every year in the month of June. According to a legend, Kamakhya Devi goes through her yearly menstrual cycle and hence, this temple remains closed for 3 consecutive days. It is on the 4th day that the temple gates reopen for thousands of devotees to seek her blessings. So, if you are too a devotee, go for north-east religious tour packages and make the most of it by attending this festival.

When it’s happening in 2018?

22nd-25th June

Dree Festival, Arunachal Pradesh

It is the largest and the most popular festival in the Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. Celebrated by the Apatani Tribe, this festival signifies a rich harvest. During this festival, people worship four gods namely Tamu, Harniang, Metii, and Danyi. Traditionally, a cucumber is distributed to all as a symbol of good harvest.

When it’s happening in 2018?

5th July

 

Kang Chingba Festival in Manipur

Kang Chingba is an eight-day religious festival that celebrates the journey of Lord Jagannat and his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra. This festival is popularly known as Rath-Yatra. Yes, it is similar to Puri Rath Yatra in Orissa.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

July

Kharchi Puja, Tripura

This royal puja takes place every year in old Agartala where the people of Tripura worship the fourteen gods. This puja lasts for 7 days.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

20th July

Mim Kut Festival, Mizoram

Yet another harvesting festival in the north-east, Mim Kut festival of Mizoram celebrates the harvesting of maize. There is another importance of this festival- it is believed that the deceased souls revisit the house of their previous lives and hence, offerings are made to them.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

August (Date yet to be announced)

Raas Utsav, Majuli, Assam  

Raas Utsav is an annual festival which is celebrated in the Island of Majuli, Assam. This festival beautifully combines Assamese traditional dance and classical music with the ongoing Raas Leela. ‘Raas Leela’ as the name depicts, is the life story of god Krishna which is presented in the form of performing arts on the full moon day (Purnima). Yes, north-east travel experiences gives you this too!

When it’s Happening in 2018?

Yet to be announced (happens in October-November every year)

Wangala Festival, Meghalaya

Popularly known as 100-drum Wangala Festival, it is celebrated for 3 consecutive days by the Garo Tribe who lives in Meghalaya. This festival is celebrated on the onset of winters and is significantly the biggest harvest festival in Meghalaya. The highlight of this festival is the sound of 100 drums (nagaras) being beaten together. Garo people are one of the very few remaining matrilineal societies in the world. And hence, here visitors can very well experience the importance of women in their community.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

9th to 11th November

 

Nongkrem Dance Festival, Meghalaya

Nongkrem Dance Festival is celebrated every year by the Khasi tribe in the hope of rich bumper harvest. The Nongkrem Dance is the highlight of this festival where unmarried girls with beautiful attire dance forward and backward forming a circle. The north-east region has a plenty of festivals where women play a major role in keeping the essence of sacred days alive and cheerful.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

13th November

Sangai Festival, Manipur

An amazing initiative by the Manipur Tourism Department to promote Manipur as a tourist destination, this festival is celebrated each year showcasing the best of Manipuri art and culture, cuisines, handloom, handicrafts, fine arts, indigenous sports and eco and adventure sports. The festival is also known by another name i.e Tourism Festival and attracts a lot of tourists each year. Yes, I have ticked my list of attending this festival in 2017 and make my north-east travel experiences more interesting and would want everyone to plan a vacation here. It’s truly a worth!

A Glimpse at the Preparation of Sangai Festival

When it’s Happening in 2018?

21st-30th November (Yet to be announced)

Orange and Tourism Festival, Tripura

This festival gives enough reasons to its tourists to appreciate the beauty and magic of nature. This festival is hosted at The Jampui Hills in Tripura, which is the only place in the region where plentiful of oranges are cultivated. Oranges are the highlight of this festival.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

Yet to be announced

 

Hornbill Festival, Nagaland

One of the most famous festivals of north-east, Hornbill Festival in Nagaland brings together all the 16 tribes of the state. This festival is named after the colourful Hornbill bird, which resides in the region and plays an integral part in the social and cultural life of the tribes. Every year, this festival is organised in Kisama Heritage Village, Kohima and I have been lucky enough to have been able to witness the celebration on my last visit to Nagaland in 2017. The north-east travel experience was of a lifetime and hence, I have penned down about it in detail in my upcoming book, “Early Sunrise Early Sunset”.

Cultural event at Hornbill, 2017

When it’s happening in 2018?

1st to 10th December

Losoong Festival, Sikkim

Depicting Sikkimese New Year, Losoong Festival is celebrated each year with great pomp and show. It is also that time of the year when the farmers celebrate their harvest. This festival is mainly celebrated by the Bhutia and Lepcha tribes of Sikkim. The black hat dance and drinking of locally brewed wine are the highlights of this festival.

When it’s Happening in 2018?

8th-12th December

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