Festival showcases Denpasar’s heritage

by Wasti Atmodjo on 2012-12-29

The annual Denpasar Festival was officially opened on Friday evening with a street parade showcasing the city’s abundant traditional heritage as well as its modern creativity.

A fabulous street fashion show underlined the city administration’s commitment to take endek, proclaimed as Denpasar’s signature fabric, onto the national and global stages.

The torrential rain that battered the city for hours in the afternoon made a hasty retreat one hour before the opening ceremony, providing ample time for city dwellers to flock to the opening venue at the Catur Muka intersection in downtown Denpasar.

By the time the street parade commenced, thousands of people crowded the venue, forcing security officers to work extra hard to clear the streets in readiness for participants in the colorful procession.

Denpasar Mayor IB Rai Dharmawijaya Mantra, who is known as a man of few words, did not offer any opening speech at all. Instead, he choose to open the festival, which will run until Dec. 31, by releasing several doves into the air.

“I would like this festival to grow into a medium of interaction through which the people of Denpasar showcase the best of their creativity,” he said later on.

One of the highlights of the street parade was the fashion show, featuring city administration staff in numerous dresses made of endek, a traditional woven textile known for its geometric patterns.

Promoting endek and rejuvenating the local endek industry have become top priorities for Rai Mantra and his wife Selly Mantra, who serves as the chairwoman of the local handicraft council.

The mayor believes endek can serve as a main example of how a local, tradition-based creative industry can survive and even thrive in the modern era.

Rai Mantra went as far as launching a “Rebirth of Endek” program, which made it mandatory for administration employees and students in Denpasar to wear the tie-dyed woven cloth at official ceremonies and certain designated days.

The program also saw several endek designers sent to participate at national-level trade expos and the transformation of the fourth floor of Pasar Badung, the island’s largest market, into a center for endek. The city has around 100 endek producers and most of them are still struggling with the marketing their businesses.

Besides the street fashion show, the festival committee is organizing a pageant to select the city’s endek ambassadors, an endek design competition and a fashion night that will feature the works of Bali’s best fashion designers.

“I hope that the festival’s focus on endek will stimulate designers and producers to create better quality endek as well as increase the public’s interest in endek-based products,” Selly Mantra said.

The festival, which is entering its fifth year, has the theme “My City, My Home” and will feature a series of art performances, exhibitions, book launches and competitions.

As many as 272 stalls have been erected on Jl. Gajah Mada and Jl. Veteran to host various handicrafts, textiles and jewelry sellers as well as traditional food vendors. The festival’s schedule can be accessed at denpasarfestival.com.

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