by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
One of the most well known of Papua New Guinea’s historical cultural shows would have to be the Sepik Crocodile Festival. The cultural show is an annual event usually staged in Ambunti in the East Sepik Province. It is a three-day celebration and falls every year in the month of August.
During the celebrations, traditional dancing, singing and crafted crocodile showcasing takes place. Other practices such as body tattooing and male initiations are also showcased during the celebration. This brings a lot of excitement to those that participate, as well as for those who gather to witness the event.
The event signifies the unique relation the Sepik people have with the animal. Some of the rivers found in Sepik are home to some of the world’s largest freshwater and saltwater crocodiles, which makes the Sepik people famous for the common phrase ‘Sepik Pukpuk’.
The locals believe the crocodile symbolises strength, power and manhood. This has become a traditional belief and legend, and through this event the people acknowledge, portray and remember their nature and the animal’s importance.
The festival is staged every year and this year’s event will take place from Augsut 5-7. The locals are now preparing for the coming event, as it attracts many visitors who flood in to witness and be a part of the cultural event.
Today, it is not only celebrated to signify the importance of crocodile but rather a more educational tool. The festival now aims to educate those from the region in the knowledge of the traditional ways of the Sepik people.