MARIANAS TO CELEBRATE CHAMORRO LUNAR CALENDAR

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Ancient 13-month calendar guided fishermen, farmers

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, ) – Plans are underway for the celebration of the Chamorro Lunar New Year on January 24, 2009 as the Chamorro calendar committee seeks artwork and participation from the local community.

With the support of the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council and the Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association, the calendar committee, headed by Peter R. Onedera, has collected and compiled information from local fishermen over the last several months and has designated the first day of the Chamorro 13-month calendar as Sinahi (crescent moon) of Tumaiguini (January).

Additionally, the calendar is also a collaborative effort involving the contributions of Rota, Saipan, and Tinian fishermen who attended the Third Chamorro Conference in Saipan.

The calendar committee attended the conference last month to give a presentation on their efforts to assemble a Chamorro calendar.

"What gives the calendar so much importance is that the fishermen in the Marianas archipelago share the same sentiments with regards to the moon especially during the harvesting of fish and other seafood and the harvesting of food crops from the land throughout the year," said Onedera. "These were in existence since ancient times and still practiced by generations of well-known fishing and farming families throughout the islands of the Marianas."

According to Onedera, the artwork for the calendar will be chosen from entries submitted to an impending art contest that will be open to all students in primary and secondary public schools. Thirteen entries will be selected for each month of the year, with the overall winner's artwork to grace the front cover of the calendars for both the Chamorro community and the Refalawasch community in the Northern Marianas.

With a few more months left to organize the event, the committee is planning on holding a festival, free to the public, on the grounds of the Hagåtña Co-Op on Saturday, Jan. 24, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The event will feature displays, arts and crafts, and entertainment that will take place with the distribution of the lunar calendar bearing the appropriate Chamorro words for the different moon phases.

Also highlighted during the celebration will be the chÃ¥han, the ancient Chamoru method of cooking underground much like the Polynesian lu'au but with the main entrée of fish and other seafood as well as taro, yams, sweet potatoes and breadfruit.

With the festival geared as a Chamorro-language event, the committee also encourages the public to be involved, seeking volunteers to participate in chants, songs, dances, oratory, storytelling, and emceeing for the event.

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