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Garma Festival is an annual festival organized by Yothu Yindi Foundation held in Gulkula, at north-east of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. Before starting the festival, the ancient sound of the didgeridoo (a wind instrument similar to a flute) spreads around the region, calling all people to come together in unity and peace. The wild symphony of the local “musicians” announces the Garma Festival, an event that resisted over time, being the most vibrant celebration of YoIngu Aboriginal people of northeastern Arnhem Land. As the most important Indigenous cultural celebration, the festival is the perfect cultural exchange for clan groups from Arnhem Land and also for clan groups throughout the land and Australia.

Garma Festival, with its spectacular traditions and practices which include dance, song, music and art, has a spiritual significance for YoIngu, as a practice and as a place. It happens when people leave their anger and selfishness, when different values and ideas emerge and negotiate knowledge in a respectful learning environment. Garma Festival can be seen as a colorful gate between two worlds: the inheritance of YoIngu culture, one of the oldest living cultures on Earth (stretching back over 40,000 years) and the modern culture represented by Ngapaki or Non-Indigenous Australians.

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Photo by Wayne Quilliam