The land of "Cendrawasih" (Bird of Paradise) is really blessed with an abundance of natural resources and unparalleled culture and traditional arts that have to be maintained.
In this light the preservation and promotion of Papua`s culture and traditional arts are made through the Lake Sentani Festival that has been organized three times in three consecutive years from 2008-2010, and the fourth will be staged from June 19-23, 2011.
Themed "Love, Peace, and Harmony," the festival will feature various art and cultural activities and attractions.
FDS 2011 organizing committee chairperson Anna Sawai said in Jayapura over the weekend that the annual event held for the first time in 2008 would be enlivened by a variety of both local and national cultural activities.
"The Lake Sentani Festival this year will be the fourth and certainly we have to make better preparations to make the event a great success and to give the best possible service to the visitors," Anna said.
According to her, the Lake Sentani Festival would be highlighted by various activities such as cultural performances, a cultural exhibition, economic products exhibition, local typical culinary exhibition, tours, water sports competitions, and cultural seminars.
Anna said that traditional dances, colossal attraction of flute and drum, and folk songs would be introduced for five consecutive days during the festival.
While in the cultural exhibition, the cultural items from Papua ethnic community in Tabi, sculptures, paintings, literature, and history with their documentary films would be displayed.
"Besides, there will be typical culinary exhibition and various water sports competition for the visitors because in principle we want to give them our best possible services during the festival this time," Anna said, adding that the festival would be centered at Kalkhote tourist resort near Lake Sentani in Jayapura district.
It is a real fact that Papua is blessed with abundant natural resources but economically people`s standards of living lag far behind those of their brothers and sisters in other parts of the country.
Therefore the central and regional governments have already made various effort to improve the local people`s standard of living and preserve the province`s resources and cultural heritage but so far without optimal results.
No wonder Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu once said the abundance of traditional art potential in the province needed serious attention and the gentle touch of professional and skilled hands.
Suebu said skilled and professional people with a vision of the future were encouraged to explore, develop, and save the plenteous Papua traditions and cultural arts from extinction.
"Not only that, Papuan traditional arts really have precious market value, and they also support the future of the province`s tourism sector without the risk of losing their specific characteristics," the governor said.
Papua is actually rich in traditional arts but unfortunately it lacks human resources to develop them.
"Therefore it should be our common consideration and awareness as Papuan ethnic community to save our own cultural heritage," Governor Suebu said.
According to the Lake Sentani Festival committee chairperson, various traditional dances of Papua have been prepared to jazz up the event from June 19-23 this year.
"Clad in bark and leaves, thousands of male and female dancers of Papua origin are ready to entertain the participants and visitors of the 4th Lake Sentani cultural festival," Anna said in Jayapura on Wednesday.
She said various preparations and the trainings of cultural attractions from Jayapura in particular and Papua in general to make the event a great success have been made since the beginning of this year.
At the opening ceremony of the festival at Kalkote resort on the side of Lane Sentani, Anna said the participants and visitors would be awed by the beauty of Lake Sentani and entertained by the traditional dances found nowhere else in the world.
"Just like the previous festivals, the shouts and cheers of thousands of Papua traditional dancers will reverberate the atmosphere of Kalkote resort as the center of Lake Sentani Festival 2011," Anna said.
Anna said the great annual cultural event was intended to support the government`s program in tourism sector and to preserve the local cultural values to enrich the national cultural treasure.
"The objective of FDS 2011 is to lift and preserve Papuan indigenous cultural values, packaged in such a way for both domestic and foreign tourists," Anna said.
Meanwhile, Yayapura district head Habel Melkias Suwae said the festival was also intended to make Jayapura district a reliable national and international tourist destination in Indonesia.
"Through the annual Lake Sentani Festival, we will introduce both domestic and foreign tourists with Jayapura district cultural potential and other tourism objects in our bid to step up tourism industrial development here," Habel said.
To reach the goal, Habel said the great annual cultural event of Lake Sentani Festival this year would be conducted with three main concepts namely performances, exhibition and tour package.
"In addition, the festival will be a perfect event for us to promote trade and investment in various sectors such as mining, forestry, fishery, agriculture, and tourism," Habel said.
He added that the festival this year was themed "Love, Peace and Harmony" as an expression of the local community`s cultural identity.
From July 16 to 19 in 2008, the Papua Tourism Office organized the first Lake Sentani Festival to support the annual Lembah Baliem Festival in Jayawijaya district.
Since then, the LSF 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, the 3.63-hectare Lake Sentani is a perfect place for fishing, swimming, canoeing, skiing, and other kinds of water sports.
Therefore, Lake Sentani Festival in 2010 which was themed "Loving Culture for Our Future" served as a year-long gateway for the tourism industry in Jayapura district specifically and in Papua province in general.(*)