Pohnpei Cultural Day Highlights Local Traditions

April 14, 2005

By Masaleen Sehpin
The Kaselehlie Press

Before the Pohnpei Visitors Bureau office, located at the Pohnpei Botanical Gardens, many people from all over Pohnpei gathered on March 31, 2005 to observe Pohnpei Cultural Day. The theme for this year's cultural day celebrations was "Cultural Heritage: The foundation & Enrichment of Our well-being."

The day's celebrations began with a float at the Spanish Wall Park and ended at the Botanical Garden. Following the float was the setting up of exhibit booths. The exhibit booths were local cooking houses (wonuhmw), which were used in the past by the people of Pohnpei. Although they are all used as cooking houses, the exhibit booths varied in the ways they were built and they were all skillfully made by local representatives from the municipalities who participated in the day's celebrations.

Other cultural activities shown included cultural dances and cultural skills. Participated in the cultural dances were a group from Sokehs Municipality, two groups from Ohmine and two groups from Sapwuahfik. The cultural dances mostly are either for love or for war and the two groups from Ohmine performed the Pingelapese and Mwokillese war dances. The first group from Sapwuahfik however, performed a traditional dance, which was neither of love or war but like myths, telling tales of their culture and the second group performed the Hipdakan, which was first added to Sapwuahfik's culture after World War II (WWII). The Hipdakan is a dance of love and it tells of the longing in the hearts of those who were forced to leave love ones to serve the Japanese in Micronesia during WWII.

Cultural skills that were shown on this year's cultural day include the weaving of local baskets, coconut husking, braiding and lei making. Participants were given certain amount of time to complete each performance and prizes were to be awarded later.

The winner of the exhibit booths was the Lien Education group. As for the dances, the judges had concluded that there was no winner. All the performances as well as the performers were equal and no team was better than another.

The prizes for the dances were to be picked up at the social affairs office. The cultural skills that were shown that day were done by experts from the municipalities participating the events of the day, and they too show interesting skills. The winners were given gift certificates, which they will collect from certain enterprises such as True Value.

The day was filled with lots of cultural events and the young participants had a wonderful time to observe the various cultures of Pohnpei as well as learn them.