The concept of this festival is that various families compete against each other in a number of contests, like dancing, singing, swimming, stone carving, producing artefacts, fishing, horseback riding and canoe racing. There are other activities that need to be described in more detail, because of their exotic and unique nature! The points won by each of these subgroups are added and at the end decide which group has won. This very group can claim the crown for its queen. The problem is to get families to participate because it is quite a financial burden on the family and requires months of rehearsing. Often preparation for next years festival start right after the current one finishes.
There are two to three different events every day over a period of two weeks, intense for visitors and even more for the participants, because many of them take part in all three. Besides, the sun is relentless during the day and we could not even imagine what it means to perform strenuous physical activities in this heat.
The first competition we saw was a singing contest between three groups accompanied by short dances. The latter gave us a taste of things to come. Each group had to present three songs and was given points by experienced referees. We did not agree with the result and after asking locals of their opinion, we learned that the outcome of such competitions often depends on how well-liked and respected the family is in the community. Heidi was so thrilled by the kind of music presented that she rushed to buy a CD the next day, plus a short “Pareo”, the famous wrap -around cloth.
The dancing contest next day was a must see for us. Most have heard and read about the beautiful islanders and their sensual dancing. Those who think that it was only too easy to impress the men of the “Bounty” who, for so long, were deprived of worldly pleasure, think again! We were blown off our feet when we watched the first dancing competition. The famous hip-swinging and graceful arm movements of the female dancers are legendary, but we were equally impressed by the performance of the men. Their moves exhibit an immense physical energy and are not less erotic.
Dancing and singing contests in various forms are held every evening on the central stage of the festival during these two weeks. Each of the three groups gets to perform four evenings with the groups taking turns. At these daily singing and dancing contests, they feature different kinds of music, different kind of dresses and dancers & singers of different ages, all equally amazing. One can only guess how much preparatory work has gone into preparing this festival!