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Other side of Hornbill Festival
Correspondent KOHIMA, DEC 8 (NPN):
Published on 9 Dec. 2010 12:11 AM IST
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Ten years of celebrating the government funded mega medley festival –Hornbill- has crossed the stage for a serious reappraisal on the overall impact of the festival as it has become necessary to ascertain the income generated, inflow of tourists and in particular, the affect on the youth.
To find out the opinion on the festival, Nagaland Post talked with one visitor from Shillong who has practically been on a kind of pilgrimage to Kisama since the past four years. He opined that the number of people visiting the state had either stagnated or shown a decline. He maintained that the venue at Kisama was still impressive but that there appeared to be a marked decline in the interest over the festival.
Asked if participation of other cultural troupes from other states in India or even abroad could offset the decline, he replied that even in Shillong, which has foreign tourists, most visit Meghalaya for different reasons and on different occasions and not for one event alone.
“Here, in general, most people assume that tourists mean foreigners whereas, in Meghalaya, most are tourists from nearby states and mainland India.”
He said the main concern of tourists were on how safe it is to visit a place, travel facilities and good accommodation at affordable rates.
Making movement free and safe, taxis easily available at regulated rates and more hotels are issues which the state government and private entrepreneurs need to consider.
It would appear that sales in most of the stalls selling exhibits at the venue has declined. This was confirmed from several stalls that set up various items on display for sale. Another visitor opined that the prices of items put up for sale were priced on the higher side which could be attributed to the flop sales.
A prominent citizen of Kohima joked that it was a loss to have foreign tourists since the local people end up hosting them. He said foreign tourists also hardly buy anything as they come on a budget or don’t spend since there is no official currency exchange counter. Anyway, he went on to add, foreign tourists don’t have to buy anything since their local hosts generally present them gifts or mementos.
The only stalls doing brisk business are those selling local brew, which is not restricted by the government. However, some of the stalls also provide liquor on demand, to “cater” to the needs of the visitors.
Leaving aside the agonizing hours of being caught in Kohima’s infamous traffic jam, the Hornbill Festival has slowly and steadily veered away from the traditional concept to be dominated by the sights and sounds of the western culture in the form of beauty pageants, rock festival or fashion show etc.
People of all ages love music and more so the younger generation whose adrenalin is more prone to be driven by the tempo and decibels of modern music that is blared from the sound systems. Hornbill Festival may be losing its appeal on most but it has generated a craze among the teenagers and music buffs.
In particular, the rock shows during the last few days till the final day of the Hornbill Festival has further exposed the negative trends that rock contests bring upon many teenagers. The unruly acts including indulging in immoral acts mostly under the influence of alcohol, has given rock music its worst name and for the organizers, the worst nightmare.
On Monday, voluntary organizations including police, had to swing into action in the Indira Gandhi Stadium premises after receiving reports of drunken teenaged girls and boys in compromising positions.
One official speaking to Nagaland Post said there were almost regular arrests of teenaged kids some as young as thirteen for disorderly conduct or being “caught indulging in immoral acts”.
At least forty were hauled to the police station and locked up for the night to bring some sense before parents had to bail them out. Whether the police pressed charges or ‘compromised’ is not known.
In fact, activities of many teenagers during Hornbill Festival during the past years, had forced the state government in issuing notices against sale of alcohol(except the local brew).Even organizations in Kohima including the Angami Students Union had warned against sale of alcohol and indulging in immoral acts around the venue of the rock contest.
These unwanted activities have led many senior citizens in the capital rue Hornbill Festival as a harbinger of bad events as their kids “go crazy for fun and music” while road accidents also take place frequently. This phenomenon among the youth needs to be taken serious note of by the authorities.
However, for the government, the nocturnal activities of teenagers some as young as thirteen who let go of everything at the venue of the rock contest, should ring alarm bells when so much has been said and spent to create awareness about the spread of HIV/AIDS just on December 1.

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