Category Archives: Pasola Festival

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Sumba Pasola Festival

Pasola is a game played by the Western Sumbanese to celebrate the rice planting season.

The game is played by throwing wooden spears to the opponent while riding a horse. The game is played by two different groups of men from different clans or tribes. It is a game that requires a high skill at horse riding and spear throwing skill.

It use to end up in a bloody game when the wooden spear hit the bare flesh of the participant. In the Sumbanese ancient beliefs, the spilled blood will fertilize the land and multiply the output of the paddy.

In the Wanukaka region, as part of the ritual, early in the morning the marapu priests and their entourage go the beach to perform a prayer. They sacrifice a black cock to the gods and check the heart of the cock to read the signs from the gods on whether to proceed with the pasola.

They descend to the sea afterwards to collect the colorful sea worm as part of the ritual, then proceed to the area where the game will be played.

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 in February and March.

The festival occurs during February 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 during the Wulapodu (the month of Pasola the fasting month).

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. In its wider and deeper meanings Pasola really not only is something worth looking on but also is something worth appreciating, for there are still other elements bound tightly behind it.

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.


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