Thursday, April 17, 2014


The small house in the middle is a place for Rato, the highest priest of Marapu religion, to pray

I got a chance to visit this island because my office sent me to cover a story about a local religion, or according to the Indonesian government, a local belief called Marapu. The preparations to visit this island are crazy because information about the place is really limited on the Internet. I didn't know the name of the airport on this island; I don't know whether they have a hotel or not (because this is such a small and remote island). I don't even know whether they have a real road or not. Seriously! 

After doing some research, my friend, Syarifah Nur Aida and I finally, chose an afternoon flight from Jakarta to Denpasar in Bali, stayed at a Hostel at Kuta beach for a night and then got another flight to Waikabubak, the capital city of West Sumba region, the next morning. After getting a hotel at Waikabubak city for IDR 200.000/night (approximately USD 20), the journey (or the work, LOL) began.

Let's work!
@ Prai kalembu village
traditional weaving machine at Prai Kalembu village
Our 1st destination was a traditional village up in the hill, in the middle of Waikabubak city. There are 4 different villages placed side by side which are Waitabar, Tarung, Ende, and Prai Kalembu. My friend and I got a chance to see three of the villages, except Ende. We met some of the people who live there and got a chance to hear some stories. We also saw a lady with a traditional weaving machine and she is making a sarong. She said that to make 1 sarong she needs at least 1 month and for a neckerchief, she needs at least 1 week. Wow! What an awesome creation.

hanging out with a family in Waitabar Village

Waitabar village with tombstone of their family in front of the house
We circled around those villages and interviewed some of the villagers about the Marapu belief. Marapu is a religion that belief to their ancestor, female ancestor to be exactly, named Marapu. These ancestor live in almost everywhere, in the trees, in the stones, in the grounds, in the sky, and etc. To respect their ancestor, praying, or asking something, they have to give a sacrifice like chicken, pig, goat, or harvest things. Marapu religion is led by high priest named Rato.

This village are really awesome, how they could keep the originality of their cultural and belief among the 'slowly' modernization of the city. I was happy to heard that the villagers are living in harmony with another religion even thought that they were excluded by the government.

The next day, we were prepared to visit another part of Sumba island, the Kodi region in Southwest Sumba. It's 3 hours from Waikabubak City. We rented a car for IDR 500.000 a day (approx. USD 50). In this region, we filmed a ceremony called Pasola. Pasola is a war game and also the ceremony from the Marapu belief to celebrate a new year. It was a bright sunny day when the ceremony started with a traditional dance, and the climax is the fight or a war between 2 strongholds using spears while riding a horse. By the way, only the best soldiers from every village can join this 'war'.
All the soldier were prepared
The Pasola ceremony started with a traditional dance
The leader of the stronghold
Even though this is only a war game, it doesn't mean that someone or some soldier will not getting hurt. Combine the unsharpened stick with high speed, it can still wound you. After almost 2 hours of fighting, finally a soldier threw a spear to his enemy and it hit the enemy's head. The soldier was wounded and there was blood bursting from his head. OMG! His face was covered with blood and the white horse's neck was also covered with his blood. I'm just freezing at the side of the field watching that moment.

The strange thing happened next is all of the crowd started screaming and yelling and looked so happy. They were also dancing! What is going on in here? I'm so confused. So after the war game, I interviewed a head of the Wainyapu village, Mr. Oktavianus Ndari, asking him why all the people are happy when a soldier got hurt like that? He said that the blood from a soldier that spills on the ground will make the fields and ground in Sumba island become more fertile and there will be a big harvest in the future. The spilled blood is like a sacrifice to Mother Earth so they will get fertility and prosperity for the next year.
The young soldier not allow to enter the war game yet, but they could circling the field with their horse before the game

This is a happy soldier face when the could hit their enemy with their spears
He also explained that if a soldier dies while doing Pasola, it's even greater because there will be more prosperity for them, and it will be a great honor for the family. So there will be NO lawsuits at all. Wow! What a mind-blowing culture! They still keep the originality of the tradition so well! As an Indonesian citizen, I'm really proud of them.

Seeing this 'war' was mind boggling! That was awesome! Just FYI, the Pasola ceremony is usually held in February and March every year.

After the war games are finished, our driver wants to take us to a beach. Actually at that moment I had a headache because of the heat. But considering that i could stay and sleep in the car while my friend went to the beach and take some pictures, I said yes. In less than 30 minutes we arrived at Pero beach. 

And you know what? That beach is unbelievably awesome. I grabbed my DSLR camera, got out of the car and ran to the beach. My friend, Aida, is just screaming at me and said "I thought you said you just had a headache. How come you could just jump out and rush to the beach and leave me with this big and heavy equipment??" Hahahaha.. Sorry fellows, nature heals me fast enough! LOL

The wave at Pero Beach
really enjoying the heavy wave
Pic by Syarifah Nur Aida
We are really happy finishing the day with this awesome beach
After doing a little work and a lot of play, LOL, we want to go back to Waikabubak city because we were really exhausted. Besides that, we were really hungry because in this region, it's really hard to find some street food in here. There was some street food at the Pasola ceremony but after the ceremony ended, they were gone. So if you are planning on visiting this region, please bring your own food or snack. (EKW)


  1. waduh itu ombaknya ganas banget yaa macam di pantai selatan jawa aja, wah di sumba emang terkenal banget ya sama kudanya