From 26 to 28 October the Riau Islands will come alive when hundreds of boats from traditional sampans to modern yachts and larger boats, all gaily decorated with bunting, flags and lights will make a sail-pass upriver along the Sungai Carang, starting from the Sri Bintan Pura seaport at Tanjung Pinang on Bintan island.
The Sungai Carang (or Carang river) Festival commemorates the victory of the Riau kingdom under Raja Ali Haji Fisabilillah against the invading Dutch fleet in 1784.
After sailing upriver, the boats will then turn around, arriving at Penyengat island in the evening to form a sail pass parade at the Official Opening ceremony of the Bintan Maritime Festival 2016, which will be held on 28 October 2016.
The 28th October also happens to be another historic moment in modern Indonesia’s history, since on this day in 1928, - long before Indonesia’s Declaration of Independence on 17 August 1945, - the youth of the sprawling Dutch East Indies already pledged, together to create : One Country, one nation and one language for the entire archipelago : Indonesia . And it was from Penyengat with its sophisticated Malay language, that Bahasa Indonesia has its roots.
This year the Bintan Maritime Festival is also fused with the Sail Karimata Festival, which is held in conjunction with the Karimata Yacht Rally that joins participants from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries.
To celebrate this auspicious occasion thousands of colorful lanterns will be released to light up the evening sky.
Although the Sungai Carang Festival commemorates an event in the Riau Malay history, these festivities are also joined by those of Chinese descent and other ethnic groups, expressing harmony and togetherness regardless of ethnic or other backgrounds.