Kohima | Inaugurating the 10-day-long Hornbill festival in Nagaland, Union minister Rajnath Singh said Saturday the event showcased the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’. The festival got off to a colourful start at the picturesque Naga heritage village Kisama, about 12 km from the state capital.
Hornbill festival is an annual tourism promotional event of the Nagaland government. The event, also known as “festival of festivals”, started in the year 2000.
In his address to thousands of celebrants, which included foreign and domestic tourists, Singh said the spectacular event showcases the rich ancient culture and civilization of the people of Nagaland. It is a festival that offers a unique opportunity to the different tribes of the state to interact not just with each other but also with those from the neighbouring states in the true spirit of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’, Singh said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had initiated the concept of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’. The fest powerfully demonstrates the diversity of Naga people, Singh said, adding that each tribe is proudly unique in its cultural richness. “This spectacular demonstration of unity in diversity is what India is all about,” the home minister said, stating that he got a glimpse of the Indian spirit of “happy and peaceful co-existence” at the fest.
Maintaining that Nagaland was geographically located at a vantage point, being the gateway to the Southeast Asia, he said the northeast was the pivot of the Centre’s ‘Act East’ policy.
The central government was determined to build and improve connectivity and engagement with southeast Asia, he said, adding that India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) were partners in growth. With restoration of peace in the region, the northeast was emerging as a favoured destination for business and tourism, Singh said, adding steps were also being taken for speedy development of the eight states, including Nagaland.
The home minister also asserted that a nation could prosper only when all states developed at a fast pace. US Ambassador to India, Kenneth I Juster also attended the inaugural function as the guest of honour, while Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde was invited as the special guest.
Nagaland Governor P B Acharya and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio were the chief host and host respectively at the 10-day fest. Rev Zelhou Keyho, general secretary of Nagaland Baptist Church Council, invoked blessings of god on the occasion.
Day One saw the inauguration of a handloom and handicraft fair, adventure activities and an international photo festival among other events.