Rows of beaded goods and accessories, carvings and masks of warm, wooden shades cram countless makeshift stalls, blissfully shaded from the relentless, scorching sun.
The Melanesian Festival of Arts opened its doors to fellow Melanesian Spearhead Group members on Saturday, the 28th of June.
The festival runs over a period of 2 weeks, with traditional exhibitions and cultural performances from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
The festival is exactly the type of attraction tourists far and wide wait for, as it centralizes the myriad of cultures and traditions across the Melanesian facet into one charged experience.
The event is hosted every 4 years by a country nominated within the Melanesian Spearhead Group, although this year, invitations extended far into the Pacific community, with the inclusion of Torres Strait Islands, West Papua and Timor-Leste.
The spirit is tantamount, with countless groups from all over PNG out to promote their region to the best of their ability and this is definitely apparent in the display.
Aaron, a Swiss expatriate to Papua New Guinea, seemed equipped and ready to take some HD snaps. He commended the spirit and turnout of the opening ceremony along Waigani Drive, despite difficulties he faced in securing event details.
It is foolish to turn up without a sufficient amount of cash to burn, as vendors turn on their shine in top form.
Paintings, artwork, sculptures, carvings from animals down to classy serviette cuffs, ornaMen’s, bilums of varying makes and shapes and even some archaeological wonders adorn the rows of stalls.
Asaro mudmen made a mystifying entrance, only to have their attention stolen away, however briefly, by another entering troupe. It was an exciting display, with dancers busily and dutifully representing regions in their bright costumes.
Josiah, a Fijian representative, was quick to commend the festival as ‘fantastic’, and was proud to be there representing his Fijian culture.
The atmosphere and exchange of cultures, he said, was great, a favourite being the Dukduk dance in the opening ceremony, which was ‘an impressive display of culture.’
The event is tightly packed with goods and sights, all waiting to be shown off in their spectacular richness.
A festival of this kind unites Pacific nations in the spirit of keeping their rich cultures alive and thriving in a rapidly globalizing world. It showcases the unique diversity of the Melanesian community, in all its’ glory, in the convenience of one huge event.
The festival comes to a close on the 11th of July.
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