Every year, Papua invites people to see their beautiful culture, traditions, the friendliness of the people, and its astonishing natural beauty through their annual festivals. One of the most famous festivals in Papua is the Raja Ampat festival, which has been held annually since 2007.
The sun was shining brightly during the opening of the 7th Raja Ampat Festival in 2016. This year’s theme is Pesona Raja Ampat or The Charm of Raja Ampat. “The theme represents the beauty and natural beauty of Raja Ampat, whether the land and the sea”, said the Regent of Raja Ampat, Abdul Faris Umlati.
The opening ceremony took place in the morning on Tuesday 18 October 2016 in Waisai Torang Cinta beach, Waigo Island – Raja Ampat. The ceremony was opened with a dynamic traditional group performance of Papuan dance accompanied by the sounds of traditional instruments of Papua, such as Papuan flutes and drums.
In The Charm of Raja Ampat festival of 2016, Abraham Atururi, the Governor of West Papua gave a farewell speech as his period as the Governor of West Papua will end in the next 2 months. He said “”Please protect our natural ecosystem that is already internationally famous! Preserve the magic of this God given heaven on earth! It is the asset of our people’s economy”.
The goals of Raja Ampat festival, besides to promote the enchanting culture and traditions of Raja Ampat, is also aimed for the improvement of its nautical tourism. People from Indonesia and abroad are invited to see the fascinating underwater paradise underneath and discover the wonders of Raja Ampat through Raja Ampat Festival.
There were a lot of activities scheduled for this event. Interesting events such as Underwater Photo Competition, Instagram Photo Contest, Sasi Laut (Sea Conservation by traditional rules and regulations), Try Scuba program, Nautical Race, Traditional Culinary Fiesta, Traditional Handicraft Exhibition, Arts and Cultural Performances, Natural Tourism Tour packages, Journalist Photo Competition, Music Entertainment, and Yacht Rally.
Among those activities, there was a new program and a very exciting activity, Try Scuba. The purpose of this exciting activity is to invite people, especially domestic tourists who are not familiar with diving to learn how to dive and show how addictive it can be. This is also aimed to keep Raja Ampat’s wonderful diving spots as the top places to dive in the world.
Raja Ampat is not only about the best spots to dive, but it will also pamper you with its special cuisines. Most of them are fresh from the sea. such as fish, sea weeds, seashells, sea worms, and so much more. For the souvenirs, there are traditional products such as traditional Papuan cloths, cane artworks, plaited hats, Asmat statues, and traditional music instruments.
Another interesting activity to do is the photo competition. Raja Ampat has fascinating landscapes and one of the places with the biggest biodiversity on earth. Most of the tourists always kept their camera in their hands to record the memories of their trip. Hence, there were some competitions that can be entered by the tourists that have come to see The Charm of Raja Ampat festival. These photo contests are a way of promoting the magnificent natural beauty of Raja Ampat to the world.
The aim of the cultural festivals in Papua is not only to promote the Papuan cultures and natural beauty, but it is also as a reminder for us to keep our culture and natural resources as the legacy to our next generation. Hence, we can start our efforts to love and preserve Raja Ampat from now.