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An Ode to the Land of Hornbills

An Ode to the Land of Hornbills

Glimpses of The Hornbill Festival 2021
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Writer Somashis Gupta outlines in the form of an wonderful verse his memorable experiences in Nagaland—the North Eastern State of India rich in natural resources, tribal customs, and traditions free from the cons of modern-day civilisation. The lush green valley, the hunting-sharing, the cuisines, clothing & the unique hornbill festival makes the writer rise in love with the land.

Photographs by Shikharjyoti Das, Tezpur

“…and this time I did not fall in love but rose in love, and not just rose I climbed, climbed a height of 4744 feet… “


(“Come in December” she advised )


On the last day of November, I left the City of Joy.

Found myself a taxi driven by a young boy.

On route to the alpine leaving the ado,

I recalled stories of childhood one or two.

Marriage of my parents, and tales of my grandfather.

P.R.Chaudhury, his name and he was the chief engineer.

Finally, after 29 twists and turns, I reached.

To see her beauty, and what she preached.

Her charm was prolifically awesome.

Pure and fresh just like a new blossom.

Words won’t be enough to validate my joy,

Like a little child getting a new toy.

She was dancing in a grandeur of a ceremony,

She wore no jewels, no diamonds costly,

In an open field with no hall.

Nor paint no powder but just her charming shawl.

She was no humdrum but a seducing enigma.

Such was her charm and her charisma.


(She held my hands and said “Come see my creations”)


Lay in front the finest beaded necklace

Along with beautiful red dresses

Traditional jewellery and spear,

Bamboo crafts too looked so dear

Amidst the scenic landscape of cherry blossom tree

The fully bloomed flowers startled me definitely.

My eyes found a plethora of freshness.

Such was her beauty and her greatness.


(“Come meet my children,” She said)


It was Angami and Ao who came in first,

Sumi and Lotha followed, to quench my thirst

With water and rice beer

Which I drank without a fear.

This way I met each of them

It was wonderful to meet all her 17 children.


(“Come eat something,” she said)


What followed was a gastronomical delight,

Rejuvenated me with each bite.

The pork with bamboo shoots,

Along with the rice beer, I found my roots.

I ate in peace and drank at ease.

Amidst the charming green trees

(“Come in the morning to the next village,” She said)

Incredible incidents happened that day,

Viewing which I was blown away.

I saw her sons carrying huge monolith

Displaying strength and great faith.

It was the 3rd day I remember

She took me to an auditorium somewhere near

Met some of the finest writers, and some great bikers

They were her sons ‘the great fighters’.

Evening that day was a charming delight

The finest of cinema came to my sight.

 (“You need to go hunting” she announced the next day)

Hunting and me? Today?

Definitely not one of my forte.

I went to Angami for help.

Scratching my forehead and my scalp

Joining the villagers for a special ceremony.

Wondered what was stored in my destiny.

We went in two circles around the hunt

I was behind not at the front.

Hunting dogs started barking

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And I saw all the men started running.

I was confused but gradually realized

Hunt is over, we found our prize.

Rather cruel! I thought,

Why kill when it can be bought?

But then I realized from what I saw

As the villagers stood in a row.

The kill was up for distribution

Everything was in right proportion.

No wastage, no refrigeration

Survival without environmental degradation

What an excellent way to manage ecosystem.

Civilization at its best wisdom.

Unlike us the city dwellers

Who are just buyers and sellers

Victims of consumerism

Slaves of capitalism

10 days passed this way

A new learning earned every day

Time for me to depart

Experience were class apart

Adios I told her

Hoping to come next year

Hornbill Festival 2021
Glimses of The Hornbill Festival 2021
The Hornbill Festival 2021
The Hornbill Festival 2021

Sometime life takes you to a turn, which makes you think, and with thoughts comes realization, and  with realization, perception changes, and with change of perception definition changes. I changed my definition of civilization with this turn in life.

I  wondered if we are civilized at all. We manufacture everything we need and in the process destroy nature. In the name of development, we build industries and destroy trees. We refrigerate our food to preserve but destroy the ozone layer resulting in global warming.

 With such thoughts, I was returning to so-called ‘civilization’ when my friend Sid called.

 “What news?” He said

 “I am in love again,” I said, “ and this time I did not fall in love but rose in love, and not just rose I climbed, climbed at a height of 4744 feet ….” I narrated the entire incident.

 “So happy for you, what is her name?” He asked

 “Her name is Nagaland, and I am returning from Hornbill festival”

 After a moment of silence, he said..

“Why don’t you write about her in East India Story?”

PS: This story is inspired from a personal experience when I visited Hornbill with some friends a few years back. Some portion of it is influenced by ‘Galway Shawl’ and ‘Nancy Lee’, and Gordon Ramsey’s ‘The great escape’ series.

Featured image by Arindam Saha on Unsplash

Also read: The Tribes & Culture of Nagaland (Part –I) 

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