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Traveller's Tales


Sumba Pasola

Sumba Island is located in East Indonesia, just under Sumbawa Island and the best way to go there is from Bali, where there are a few Travel Agencies offering various Tour Package to the places of interests around NTT/East Indonesian Islands.
There are two Airport entries: Waingapu (coordinate S 09.38.924 – S 120.15.732) and Waikabubak (coordinate S 09.37.963 – E 119.24.809.

In the colonial days, Sumba attracted Dutch and Portugis for its Sandalwood plantation, the basic ingredient for making the fragrance. Besides the sandalwood Sumba also known to have the best Candlenut and horses.

While Christian is the dominant religion, however there are people still practicing animistic religion called “Marapu” where the Ratos the Priest play the dominant roles in deciding just about anything related to their beliefs.
There are still many, over hundred years old Megalithic Tombs and up to today, the burial of the dead is still done around yard of the house.
Each clan or tribe built their traditional houses on the hilltops as part of a lookout point for better defending and security. In the middle of the housing complex there always an altar for both rituals and sacrificing ceremony.
Pasola literally means a man on a horse with spear (see picture). However, Pasola is also an event conducted before the planting season starts. The Pasola event characterized with hundreds of Pasola Warriors of a different Clan or Tribe line up in an open field   facing and throwing spear at each other while riding their horses. In the old days, the spear made of a wooden stick and a sharp metal plate in the edge, but during the colonial days, the sharp objects were no longer allowed to be used. 
Besides it is an event to celebrate the coming planting season, it is also an event for the young people to prove that they are ready to enter their manly- hood and the prove has to be done during the Pasola. However, everybody who want to participate the Pasola will have to get the approval from the Ratos or Priest. Before the event, each participant will have to bring a black cock and the Ratos will cut it open, take the heart of the black cock and read the faith of the person. Without the blessing of the Ratos, nobody could take participation of Pasola, because bad things might happen to the person. On the other hand, getting hurt and blood spells out doesn’t mean a bad thing to the person, as a matter of fact, it is a prove that the person stand the test to be a warrior …..
The event starts after The Ratos or Priests of each Clan or Tribe exchange courtesy words and indeed threats to each other, however thing is best settled in the battle field through their respective warriors. ….
Pasola game is done throughout the island, but the big one is done in Wanokaka (coordinate S 09.43.248 – E 119.27.192). The first event is done early morning in the beach after the Ratos give the signal, to a warm up and testing each other strength and then followed with the main event in nearby field.
(Sea Worms)
At dawn before the Pasola start, another equally interesting and important event is also conducted, that is collecting the sea worms or the locals called it “Nyale”.
Hundreds of people from the surrounding villages flocked to the beach to collect this Nyale. While to many it might looks very unappetizing indeed, but for the locals it is the most awaited delicacy, that come ashore from the deep only once a year. The coming of this Nyale also mark, whether the season is going to be a good or bad ones. When they come in plenty, it is a good news and the people expecting a good harvests …..
In many parts of Sumba, the plowing of padi field is done in the ancient way, instead of with a plowing machine, they do it by a big herds of water buffalos walking up and down the field in order to soften the earth ……
Hope you enjoy reading the article.
See you in the next article.

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