The sky, azure, while cottons of white clouds drifted by as the old and young gathered to witness the Opening Ceremony of the first ever Cultural and Arts Festival on Ulawa Island. In the arena, dancers clad in their dark pink custom attire stood in lines waiting eagerly. Spectators aligned themselves to the fence that marked the venue's boundary and watched in anticipation. As I stood under the banner that read "Renga Cultural and Arts Festival", sensations of relief and excitement ran through me. Alongside, was a line of girls, each with freshly threaded lei. The conch sounded three times and the warriors burst into action chanting challenges and waving their spears to welcome the VIPs. The Renga Cultural and Arts Festival had begun!
Renga Cultural and Arts Festival first took place from December 3-5, 2013.
The Festival, an initiative of the Mwadjo'a Community of Ulawa Island was funded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. While this Festival hopes to preserve and conserve Ulawa culture, it should be also seen as a prelude to the Tourism industry in the Province.
'Renga' means 'beautiful'. "Our cultures are beautiful because they are in harmony with nature. They have sustained our people for hundreds of years and if they disappear now, we won't be able to survive in this dynamically changing world. The key objective of this festival is to alert the Ulawa populace to protect, preserve and continue benign cultural practices and customs.
This event involves traditional dances, handicraft demonstration and exhibition, mock traditional chief installation ceremony and traditional games. This years festival will feature mainly tarditional aspects of the sea including the 'Malauhu' (boys initiation to manhood through 'bonito' (tuna) fishing), traditional fishing techniques and traditional canoe making.
This festival was featured in one of the in-flight magazines of the National Carrier - Solomon Airlines in 2014. This festival is bi-annual and the next one is in December this year (2015).
This event is free for all.