Indigenous celebration 2018.
One of the stage performances at Indigenous celebration 2018.
Indigenous celebration 2018.
One of the stage performances at Indigenous celebration 2018.

UBUD, Bali (BPN) – The Indigenous Celebration held at the Arma Museum in Ubud, Bali on May 11-13 presented 34 tribes included Gayo Aceh, Antoni from West Timor, Dayak Punan, an Australian Aboriginal group, Dayak Kenyah, Marind from Papua and a New Zealand Maori group. In all, 200 Indigenous people gathered in Bali for this inaugural event – from rivers, jungles, small villages and larger urban settlements. The event has been built creatively on the sense of connection between the Indigenous people from Indonesia, the Pacific and India, including Odisha and Nagaland.

The Celebration provided a unique opportunity for participants to reinforce their indigenous identity, including ideas, knowledge and wisdom and staged performances that resonated with ancient rhythms, songlines and sacred dances.

The event was initiated by David Metcalf and Emmanuela Shinta. David is a photographer and author focusing on indigenous documentation in Indonesia, and Shinta is the founder of Yayasan Ranu Welum, Central Kalimantan.

“The collaboration between Indonesia and other indigenous people created a platform for dialogue and exchange and allowed for ideas to flow, similarities to be found and bonds to be formed. By adding storytelling and poetry reading to dramatic evening dance performances, we further encouraged genuine sharing of the elders’ wisdom. It was essential to Shinta and I as co-founders to create awareness of traditional wisdom, show it in a new light,” David said.

Indigenous celebration 2018.

A moving opening ceremony was led by the elders of the Dayak Maanyan community. It included a prayer ritual which sought permission from their ancestors for the celebration and sought their help in guarding Arma’s sacred ground during the event. It involved ancient chants accompanied by the sprinkling of rice and holy water.

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The 3-day Indigenous Celebration continued this tradition of honouring the visible and invisible world. Other themes pervading the festival also included artistic excellence, collaboration, unity strong inter-cultural relationships, friendship and respect for nature.

On the closing night, a live demonstration of hand-tapping, a traditional tattooing technique by the masters of two different tribes – the Mentawai and the Dayak Iban, enthralled the audience. There were also 29 daytime workshops, which for example included weaving demonstrations by West Timorese, tattooing by the Mentawai and Dayak, and Iban demonstrations and sound healing by the New Zealand Maori.

All these activities attracted an audience of 2,500 over the three days. “This celebration event was a showcase for our Indigenous identity, strength, and diversity,” Emmanuela Shinta said.

Indigenous celebration 2018.

The Indigenous Celebration is to be an annual event and have pledged to plant one tree in Kalimantan for each ticket sold in 2018.

Next year the committee are hoping more embassies and corporate sponsors who have a genuine commitment to supporting indigenous cultures will come on board. The committee is seeking partners to work in a spirit of cross-cultural collaboration accordingly to its vision to expand the Celebration’s role of recalling and reinforcing solidarity with nature, tribal traditions, and cultural preservation  and honour of the diversity of the archipelago that reinforces the identity of Indonesia and the world.


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