AT A GLANCE OF SUMBA
WAIGAPU - WAIKABUBAK
Sumba is a magnificent island steeped in ancient culture and traditions, edged by stunning, undeveloped beaches, crystal clear blue seas and home to vast, wild savannas and sprawling rainforests teeming with wildlife. The island of Sumba lies towards the eastern end of the Nusa Tenggara chain of islands in Indonesia. This chain stretches from the small island of Bali in the west, to West Timor in the east. Sumba is a relatively small island (about 210 km from east to west, and 50 km north to south).
The population in 2008 was a modest 510,000. Sumba lies to the south of the extensive belt of volcanoes that runs through most of Indonesia. Its soil is coral and limestone based and not particularly fertile. The north and east of the island tends to be very dry, while the south and west is much wetter and more fertile.
Daytime temperatures are uniformly in the low thirties (degrees centigrade) although it can be slightly cooler along the central ridge of the low mountains in Central Sumba. The rainy season lasts from December through to March, leaving an eight month dry season. Sumba is remarkably rich in culture, most notably the unique Marapu religion. This animist religion influences the shape of the traditional houses, the megalithic tombstones, funerals and the famous Pasola ceremony.
With regards to tourism, Sumba is somewhat an undiscovered gem. However, there are a few hotels and resorts dotted around the coastline, as Sumba has an endless supply of fantastic beaches and legendary surf. The island can be reached by air or sea and is serviced by two airports and two main harbors. Sumba boasts some of the most exotic, beautiful landscapes in the world. From endless white sand beaches to pure, natural rainforest, Sumba truly is a magical island.
The island can be reached by air or sea and is serviced by two airports: Tambolaka located at Southwest Sumba and Ir. Mehang Kunda located at East Sumba. Sumba has also two main harbours Waikelo at Southwest Sumba and Waingapu at East Sumba.
Marapu is an animist religion and maintains a strong hold in an ever growing Catholic Sumba. The followers of Marapu believe that the spirit of their ancestors watch over them – the spirits of the Marapu. Through rituals and ceremonies the earth dwellers maintain a peaceful, harmonious relationship with the Marapu. As long as the rules of ceremony are followed correctly, the Marapu ancestors will bless them with good relationships with their family and neighbours, health, and successful harvests.
Several years ago there was an incident in Bukambero – Kodi, Southwest Sumba, where the rice seed caught fire. The Marapu followers searched for reasons why this might have happened. Several rituals and ceremonies were held to ask for reconciliation with the ancestors.
THE MARA’PU PRIESTS OF
SUMBA – WAIKABUBAK ( Annually Ritual )
A Marapu Priest is a mediator between the ancestors of the Marapu and humankind. Male, he must be of a good nature, wise and have a good reputation within his society. He must be honest in his deeds and words. He directly communicates, on behalf of the people who follow Marapu, with the ancestors. The followers of Marapu believe that if the priest is no t sincere in his work, he will be forever cursed. Therefore, the Marapu priests tend to be honourable members of society who encourage others to lead good lives. In order to become a Marapu priest, skills are usually passed on from father to son. They do not usually attend school which means that the majority of them are illiterate. There are no Marapu prayer books or written guidelines for rituals.
WULLA PODDU – THE HOLY MONTH ( Annually Fiest )
The priest must remember them all. This is quite an accomplishment since, for example, ‘Yaigho’ is an impressive twelve hour ritual lasting from sunset to sunrise. These gifts of the Marapu priests are said to be sent from the ancestors.
Every year in November, several tribes in Sumba (Loli, Wanukaka, Sodan and Umbu Koba) follow the tradition of ‘Wulla Poddu’. Literally translated this means ‘the bitter month’. During this month people are forbidden to mourn death, marry, have celebrations or build houses. It is a time for giving thanks to the Marapu before planting season begins.
The end of ‘Wulla Poddu’ brings with it ceremonies such as hunting boar and chicken sacrifices. The fat of boars and the blood of chickens are offered to the Marapu spirits. Whole tribes gather together to celebrate the end of ‘Wulla Poddu’ where they share their stories and food. It’s a time of family reunion and reconciliation.
SUMBA - WAIKABUBAK
Pasola is a thanks giving ceremony to the ancestral spirit of people from West Sumba East Nusa Tenggara.
More than 50 men riding horses which divided into two groups – from upper and lower villages. Before they start, the Rato ( Traditional priest leader ) Prays in between of two groups, then he throw a spear to start the game. Immediately followed by those horse riders race their horse and throw their spears toward the opponent over and over. This is a blood sacrifice…..!
This ceremony happen only once in a year ( FEBRUARY and MARCH ) and date could not be predicted in advance, it is always not in the same date every year. It depends on RATO’S decision which is announced one or two weeks before.
The Schedule Pasola Festival
SUMBA – WAIKABUBAK ( Annually Festifal)
Pasola is the name of ancient war ritual war festival by two groups of selected Sumbanese men. They riding their colorful decorated selected horses fling wooden spears at each other. This traditional ceremony held in the way of uniquely and sympathetically traditional norms, every year.
The festival occurs during February or March in Lamboya and Kodi. The main activity starts several days after the full moon and coincides with the yearly arrival to the shore of strange, and multihued sea worms – Nyale. The precise date of the event decided by Rato which is announced one or two weeks before the festival.
Pasola is derived from the word Sola or Hola meaning a kind of a long wooden stick used as a spear to fling each other by two opponent groups of horsemen. The horses use for this ritual are usually ridden by braves and skilled selected men wearing traditional customs.
The people of Sumba believe that the ritual has a very close link to the habit of the people since it arranges the behavior and the habit of the people so that the balanced condition between the physical – material needs and the mental – spiritual needs can be easily created; or in other words the ritual is believed to be able to crystallize the habit and the opinion of the people so that they can live happily both in earth and in heaven. In addition to it, Pasola is also believed to have close relation to the activity in agriculture field, therefore any bloodshed (of sacrificial cattle or men participating in the game) is considered the symbol of prosperity that must exist.
Without blood Pasola mean nothing to them. Those who died in the Pasola arena are believed to have broken law of tradition the fasting month. Pasola that always takes risks, however, is acceptable by the people in a very hospitable way and sportive.
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