Jakarta, (ANTARA News) – The much awaited cultural event of Lake Sentani Festival kicked off at Kalkhote beach resort in Sentani, some 30 km north of here.
Opening the festival on Saturday morning, Jayapura Disrict head Habel Melkias said it was a momentous event to promote Jayapura tourism potentials.
“Lake Sentani Festival is intended to promote tourism potentials, to preserve and introduce typical traditional arts and culture of Jayapura district in particular and Papua province in general,” Habel said.
Besides introducing typical traditional arts from Jayapura, the festival also exhibits various agricultural products, as well as cultural and art works.
Therefore, Habel called on all people in Jayapura to make the festival a success.
“I call on all people across Jayapura district to participate in making this event a success because it has a very significant impact on the economy and welfare of the local people,” Habel said.
Meanwhile, FDS committee chairman Anna Sawai reported that the festival was participated in by 19 regions and 4 districts in Papua, namely Mamberamo Raya, Mamberamo Tengah, Asmat, Biak Numfor, and Sarmi.
Themed `Loving Culture for Our Future`, the festival is an expression of human love through preservation and development of cultural assets and Lake Sentani natural resources for the welfare of the local people.
Various attractions ranging from Keping-keping colossal dance to describe the origin of 110-sq km Lake Sentani, musical performance, carving skills, speech contest in Sentani ethnic language, and ornamental boat race are going to be performed to grace Lake Sentani Festival.
“We are going to make the festival as attractive as possible in a bid to introduce and to promote the local traditional arts and culture to international community,” Anna Sawai said.
And again, Jayapura district head said the five-day festival from June 19-23, organized for the third time since 2008, was expected to attract as many domestic and foreign tourists as possible.
“The first festival in 2008 attracted around 2,000 foreign and domestic tourists. The number rose to around 5,000 in the second event. This year in the third festival, we hope to see more than 10,000 tourists,” Habel said.
According to him, this year`s event would serve as a year-long gateway for the tourism industry in the province of Papua.
In 2008, the Papua Tourism Office organized the first Lake Sentani Festival from July 16 to 19 to support the annual Baliem Valley Festival in Jayawijaya district.
Since then, the festival was held as an effort to protect the culture of Jayapura district, especially at the areas around Lake Sentani.
Located some 75 meters above sea level and surrounded by beautiful hills, Lake Sentani is a perfect place for fishing, swimming, canoeing, skiing, and other kinds of water sports.
“No wonder, Lake Sentani Festival will serve as a year-long gateway for the tourism industry in Jayapura district specifically and in Papua province in general,” Habel said.
It means, he said, that in this case tourism will strengthen the identity of the people of Papua, preserve their traditional and cultural values, step up their economy.
Habel said being of Melanesian stock, Papuan people were ethnically different but at the Lake Sentani Festival, Papuan people and their culture and traditions would be introduced to both the national and international communities.
“It is because we want to know each other better to strengthen our big national family and to build our mutual trust,” Habel said, adding that unlike other events, the Lake Sentani Festival would present guests with dance performances, local customs and antiques, as well as sightseeing tours to historical sites and a tourist village near the lake.
He added that around 1,500 dancers from 24 villages around the lake were ready to grace the festival, while villagers have been encouraged to accommodate the guests and tourists in their own homes to show their sincere hospitality.
Meanwhile, Papua branch of Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) spokesman Jefry Abel expressed hope that both print and electronic media would actively promote the rich of Papua tourism potential to both domestic and international community.
Jefri admitted that Papua was rich in tourism potential, culture and arts, unique history, and culinary but unfortunately many of them remained unknown by outside community.
“Print and electronic media are expected to actively promote and introduce Papua tourism potential and the diversity of its culture, arts, and tradition,” Jefri said.
He added that other festivals besides FDS, like Lembah Baliem Festival in Jayawijaya district, Asmat Cultural Festrival in Asmat district, and Marine Festival in Raja Ampat district had indicated a step forward from the government to promote Papua potentials.
“We hope all existing festivals in Papua can continue to be preserved and maintained through print and electronic media role,” Jefri said.
Meanwhile, Vatican Ambassador to Indonesia Mgr Leopoldo Girellin in his visit to Papua recently called on the Catholic community in the province to preserve the traditional Lake Sentani Festival.
“All positive things that we go about in faith will be of great advantage to all people,” Girellin said at a gathering with local government officials, religious and community figures from Jayapura and Keerom districts at the Dapur Papua restaurant in Jayapura on Monday.
The Vatican envoy said traditional arts and culture anywhere should be preserved and upheld for the welfare of all people.
In his three-day pastoral visit to the easternmost Indonesian province of Papua, Girellin called on the local religious and community figures to continue maintaining religious harmony, tolerance, and peace in Papua.
He also called on the entire Catholic community in the province to support the local government in preserving the local traditional arts and culture, especially the Lake Sentani Festival.