The Sumba Ceremonial Pasola Festival

Asia Talk-Indo12JanThe Pasola Festival takes place every year toward the end of February (not on fixed dates), and is decided by the Rato two weeks before taking place. This long celebrated annual festival has its origins in war as a ritual for giving thanks to the ancestral spirits in the region of West Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara. Visitors can expect an animated event as two groups of 25 men each, mostly from the upper and the lower villages fight each other on horseback, throwing their wooden spears toward the opponent.

The initiating prayer is lead by the Rato, a traditional priest, and after he symbolically throws his spear between the groups, the “war-game” immediately starts. The word Pasola derives from the word Sola or Hola, which means a long wooden stick used as spear. The Sumbanese people believe the festival creates a balance between material and spiritual needs in order to live happily in earth and heaven. For those wanting to visit the festival they should book a flight to Ngurah Rai International Airport, then take a domestic flight to Tambolaka (West Sumba).

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