Monday, March 22, 2010

Cultural Carnival Along the Main Streets of Manokwari city West Papua

Situated at the western tip of the Geelvink bay, Manokwari city is nowconsidered to be an important hub for artists. Every year between 4 and 6 February, tens of thousands of people gather in Manokwari to participate in a street parade which they usually call Cultural Carnival. It is conducted by the GKI (the Evangelical Christian Church of Papua), in cooperation with the local government, to celebrate the Gospel Preaching Day. Groups of Christian pilgrims and tourists come to take part and see various religious, cultural and art, as well as sports events.
During this time, the main streets of Manokwari city are closed for motorized vehicles to make ways for the carnival participants to express their artistic street performance. If you come to Manokwari in early February you will be able to see this street performances where Papuan show the wealth of their art and cultural diversity in the form of traditional costumes and musical instruments; dancing and singing.
German Evangelists Otto (and his wife), and Geisler landed on Mansinam, a small island that is located in the Dorey bay near Manokwari on 5 February 1855. It was the date when the “civilization” of Papua was claimed to have begun. Although the indigenous Papuan people had developed their own civilization long before 1855, the arrival of these European missionaries and the introduction of “The Word” in a school that they opened in Mansinam was  beginning of the spread of Christianity in Papua and the entering of the indigenous people into the modernity.

Some Tips Before Coming to Manokwari for Watching Cultural Carnival
  • Sometimes, it is wise not to mention Papua as your travel destination when you apply for a visa in Indonesian embassy. Just say that you want to go to Bali, or Jogjakarta (two famous tourist attractions in Indonesia). When you have arrived in Jakarta, you can easily fly to Manokwari by Batavia Air, Merpati Airlines.
  • Domestic flights to Manokwari at the end of January and during February might be fully booked. It is better to contact airline companies several months before this event.
  • Hotels and guesthouses in Manokwari are also full during the early days of February. If you come in a group, please book your room in December or January to make sure that you have secured your accommodation for this February event.
  • After arriving in your hostel, the staff of the hostel will ask you to fill in a form which will be delivered to a police station for getting a Surat Jalan (travel letter) for you. By notifying the police about your presence in Papua, they will be able to locate and provide help and protection if there is an emergency situation that you experience during your visit to Manokwari.  
  • Manokwari is in rainy season during February, don’t forget to bring raincoat.
The events around 5 February are more concentrated in Kwawi area and Mansinam island. Put your digital photo or video camera in watertight plastic bag to ensure that it is safe from corrosive sea water when you go on a trip to the island by water taxi. by Charles Roring

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