Mar 2015 - The Goroka Festival - Suparna Kundu
Few festivals are as colourful as the Goroka Festival in Papua New Guinea. MCG member Suparna Kundu wore a traditional headdress and shared her fascinating experience in a lively presentation.
The Goroka festival is held annually in September in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. It is a two day festival where many different tribes show their dances, music and colourful dresses. Each tribe has a different look to distinguish themselves. The paintings on their faces may look similar, but when you look in more detail, you will see a different pattern. They compete with each other and are judged by a local panel with a cash prize for the winner. The entrance fees from tourists support this cultural festival. The tribes show with pride their dances and mingle easily with the tourists, especially when you wear traditional head gear or other local dress.


Papua New Guinea, a country northeast of Australia in Oceania, is home to seven million people. The three main languages are English, Tok Pisin, and Motu. Another 860 languages are spoken, although most have less than 1,000 speakers. Many tribes still live in isolation, surviving from subsistence agriculture without any money. This makes it interesting to go the festival. The pictures reminded me of my time in rural Zambia, I saw similarities in the dresses and musical instruments such as the talking drum.
There two other festivals in PNG. The Mount Hagen Festival is in August and the Rabaul Mask Festival is in July. The trip to Papua New Guinea was a spontaneous decision to travel for a long weekend. Suparna recommends that you do your homework to organize a visa (at the PNG High Commission in Kuala Lumpur or on arrival) and find a reliable travel agent, being very cautious as there are scams! Apart from the festival there are opportunities to do other activities like bird
watching, trekking, and sea sports. Suparna had a good experience with Ecotourism Melanesia, who organized the visit to the festival in a small group. There are direct flights from Singapore to Port Moresby and on to Goroka. For some do’s and don’ts, you can contact Suparna directly.
Thank you, Suparna for an enjoyable and eye-opening lecture!
Submitted by Alexius Collette
Photos by Suparna Kundu