Festivals in PNG's Sepik region

Papua New Guinea is renowned for its immense diversity of cultures, languages and tribal traditions. Each year, special shows designed to promote regional cultures draw thousands of spectators to experience cultural displays including traditional dance, crafts, produce and rituals.

A number of cultural events will be held in the East Sepik Province of PNG from August 5 to 10, 2013. The region offers spectacular landscapes and some of the world’s rarest species of plants and animals. 

The first event takes place on August 5 in Ambunti --  the Tongwijamb Men’s Initiation House Opening ,where the Tongwijamb villages in Ambunti have built a new ‘mens’ initiation house’ The second event will be held on August 6 and 7 -- the colourful Sepik Crocodile Festival, a spectacular annual celebration in the heart of one of the world’s last great wilderness areas.

For Sepik communities - renowned for their elaborate ceremonial carvings and spirit houses with soaring gabled roofs - the crocodile festival is an occasion of pride, showcasing a key part of the local culture. 

Although hunting the crocodile is part of Sepik tradition, man and crocodile also share a very special bond. Crocodiles are a key totem animal, symbolizing gods and spirits. The crocodile embodies strength, power and manhood. Most Sepik men boast scars from shoulder to hip - initiation scars, which mimic crocodile markings, and the crocodile has a starring role in ceremonial dances, or sing-sings.

The festival offers visitors a chance to explore the rich cultural tapestry of the Sepik region, and talk to dancers, artists and community members in a relaxed village atmosphere. For the people of the region, it is a rare opportunity to come together to celebrate, and to gather and exchange information.

Maprik is the gateway to the Sepik River where art and cultural practices still thrive. There is a Maprik Yam Festival and Haus Tambaran opening scheduled immediately after the Sepik River events at Ambunti on August 9 and 10 

The Maprik Yam Festival is an initiative of the people of two cultural groups, the Apangai village of the Abelam tribe and the Ilahita village of the Arapesh tribe who have collaboratively organizing and hosting this event at Apangai

The Sepik River at 1,126 kilometres in length and covering an area of 7.7 million hectares is one of the world’s greatest river systems. It is the largest unpolluted freshwater system in Papua New Guinea and among the largest and most intact freshwater basins in the Asia Pacific region.

Rhett Lego