If you have the freedom to choose your own timing to travel to Indonesia, make sure to be in Sumba in February or March. During these two months, a traditional rite takes place barely changed for thousands of years, in which spear-wielding horsemen charge at one another attempting to knock the other off his horse. The display is in aid of a successful harvest and draws excited crowds. The Pasola Festival. You’ll never forget.
A unique traditional festival
The Pasola Festival is held annually between the months of February and March in several places on different locations in Sumba. The event is a competition of skill and strength between two teams of horseback riders (of course, riding bareback) wearing amazing traditional dress (as were their horses) and toting long spears (now with blunt ends, but in earlier days, the real thing). Despite the bluntness of the spears, blood is drawn regularly, and every year people die. Yes, it’s that serious.
The Marapu Legend
According to legend, Pasola originated when a beautiful woman in a village in Southern Sumba remarried her new lover from a village in Western Sumba because she believed that her husband had died in the ocean when he went fishing for an extended period. Eventually, her husband returned and a war between these two tribes could not be avoided. In an attempt to end the conflict, the woman chose to sacrifice herself by jumping into the ocean. When she jumped into the ocean she transformed into “Nyale” (a sea worm) that often emerges in the soil today and determines the dates when Pasola will be held each year. For the Sumbanese people, Pasola is part of the local religious belief called Marapu. In this faith, Pasola is held to thank their ancestors for a successful harvest and ensuring future prosperous rice harvests.
Visit the Pasola Festival with Maringi Sumba
We are happy to organize your trip to experience Pasola in the best possible way. Every year we have students that have family or friends participating. This gives you the opportunity to discover Pasola behind the scenes as part of the excited crowds instead of from a distance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that your grandchildren will envy you for. Visit Sumba! Come with us!