The Jakarta Post
The Southeast Asia Palace and Customary Group Festival kicked off on Saturday with a cultural parade in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara ( NTB ), showcasing culture from across Indonesia and ASEAN.
The parade started at the Mataram Mayor's Office on Jl. Pejanggik and was a spectacle for residents and tourists alike. The Gendang Beleq welcoming dance and the Princess Mandalika musical opened the parade, which ended at Sangkareang Square.
Palaces and customary groups from Indonesia included Puri Agung from Denpasar, Bali; Sumbawa Sultanate, NTB; Cirebon Sultanate and Keprabon Palace, West Java; Jambu Limpo, West Sumatra; and Kutai Kertanegara Sultanate, East Kalimantan, as well as groups from Selangor Sultanate and Vietnam.
Also attending the opening ceremony were NTB Deputy Governor Muhammad Amin, Mataram Mayor Ahyar Abduh, ASEAN director general at the Foreign Ministry I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja and All Nusantara Royal Palaces Fellowship ( FSKN ) chairman Tjokorda Ngurah Jambe Pemecutan.
Ngurah said the festival aimed to strengthen ties between royal palaces and customary groups as well as celebrate Southeast Asian culture.
'Local wisdoms existing in Nusantara and other ASEAN countries will play an important socio-cultural role in the ASEAN Community,' he said in the opening speech.
'The various customs and cultures in Indonesia are complementary and have created a diverse country that is connected by the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika motto.'
He added that the ASEAN Community would only be attainable through incremental political, economic and socio-cultural steps.
Meanwhile, Puja said Indonesia had no other option but to be prepared to embrace the ASEAN Community.
'ASEAN countries have many similarities, such as food and performance. Therefore, promoting an ASEAN identity and developing the 'we feeling' are some of the key challenges we must face before the ASEAN Community comes into effect in 2015,' he said.
'It will take a joint effort from various stakeholders to push for a feeling of ASEAN Community 'togetherness'.'
The festival, which runs until Monday, is expected to formulate the role of customary groups in ASEAN identity though the introduction of traditional arts and culture.
Other activities during the festival include conferences that will bring together sultans and customary elders; a food festival; an exhibition of royal paraphernalia; and cultural shows.