Monday, August 15, 2016


This year, the impressive and truly panoramic Lake Toba in North Sumatra will be the cultural center of the 71st Commemoration of Indonesia’s Independence Day as the spectacular Lake Toba Independence Day Carnival  is to be held at Balige (Toba Samosir Regency) and Parapat (Simalungun Regency) on the shores of Lake Toba, on 20th to 21st August 2016. Aside from signifying a milestone of the country’s achievements, the event is expected to boost Lake Toba as a prime tourist destination.
The Lake Toba Independence Day Carnival 2016 will feature a spectacular range of cultural attractions from 26 provinces, 7 regencies around Lake Toba, 8 sub-ethnic communities of the Batak Toba, a number of cultural communities, and a whole lot more.
Involving over 4,000 participants, the carnival will take a 3.5Km route from Balige under the theme  ‘Red White Black’, following the traditional dominant colors in the Batak lands. The carnival will be co-highlighted with a decorated boats parade;  musical performances on a huge floating stage, and a culinary fiesta featuring Chef Bara Pattiradjawane in Parapat. Projected to attract no less than 50,000 people, the carnival is intended to reflect the fascinating diverse cultures  and ethnic groups that live in the Indonesian archipelago and how they all unite in perfect harmony.
For this special occasion, President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo will not only attend the carnival but also take part in the parade itself wearing  special traditional costumes of North Sumatra:  the Ulos. The President  will wear the Ulos Ragidup Sirara, while the First Lady will be dressed in Tum Tum Motif Ulos, both designed by the North Sumatran born renowned fashion designer Edward Hutabarat.
Featuring rarely seen ethnic traditions based on age old local wisdom, the parade will be held in the afternoon on Sunday, 21 August starting from Balige.  The public will be able to admire  700 ladies  all in local Batak costume gracefully carrying ‘tandok” on their head – which are tall baskets filled with rice, not unlike Bali where women carry offerings on their head. The baskets of rice denote participation of neighbors to the person having the party, thereby supporting and blessing the occasion. “The women come from the 7 Districts surrounding Lake Toba signifying that all districts have agreed together to  jointly build Lake Toba”, explained Minister Arief Yahya. The Batak tradition uses three dominant colors, which are red, black and white, as can be seen in their woven cloths, colors in their homes and other artefacts.                            
Meanwhile to add to the gaiety, contemporary development of the people and promote the powerful and beautiful voices of the Batak, on 20 August at Pantai Bebas, Parapat,  a  huge floating stage  of 12 by 24 meters  located some 10 meters from  shore has been built where a number of Indonesian popular singers will perform to include Slank, Edo Kondologit, Opi Anderesta, Judika and Sammy Simorangkir and more.       
“The Independence Day Carnival  is  an annual program from the Ministry of Tourism. This year President Joko Widodo has chosen Lake Toba as the center in this year’s Independence Day commemoration with the purpose to revitalize the nation’s pride and boost the spirit of ‘solid work’ as well as to further support Indonesia’s national policy in tourism development especially in the 10 priority destinations” stated Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya at the press conference on  Lake Toba Independence Day Carnival Preparations held at the  Sapta Pesona Building, Office of the Ministry of Tourism in Jakarta on Wednesday, 10th August 2016.
The Minister further explained that when the government designated Lake Toba as one of the top priority destinations for development,  infrastructure development became  highest priority here. They include the development of a Toll road from Pematang Siantar City to Lake Toba area in Parapat which is to begin next year . Also being  improved is the Silangit Toba Airport which currently already  serves direct flights from Jakarta, Kualanamu airport (Medan), and Batam.
Initiallty known as the Cultural Carnival  featuring representatives from all 34 provinces of the Indonesian Archipelago that took place around the Istana Negara or Presidential Palace in Jakarta, since 2015, it was shifted to Pontianak, in West Kalimantan, which marked the first time that the Independence Day Carnival was staged outside the capital city.
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