Part I

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Tuesday, 21 May 2019


The most thrilling annual traditional war games will yet again be held on Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara, where the breath-taking Pasola Jousting Festivals will get underway in the upcoming month of February and March. Annually taking place in several villages on the island on different dates, this year the spectacular festival will be held on 18th February at the villages of Lamboya and Hamaba Kalaiyo, 20th February at Bondo Kawangu Village, 21st February at Rara Winyo Village, 17th March at Maliti Bondo Ate Village, 18th March at Waliha Villlage, and 20th March at the Wainyapu Village.

The exact dates when the staged battles will take place are determined by village elders at full moon rising sessions, known as "naalbukolo". Here the Ratonyale plays a most important role to decide on the dates. It is difficult to estimate when exactly the Pasola jousting events will be held since the fights are not only organized as entertainment but are part and parcel of, and an inseparable ritual from the local belief called Marapu.

The Pasola jousting festival takes place on a broad stretch of savannah, and is witnessed by all villagers, the Paraingu Kabisu (communities) of both competing groups and by the general public and tourists alike. During the 'war games', opposing teams run into each other on horseback, saddle-less, throwing blunt spears - called hola - to each other to unseat or hurt their opponents or horses. Fallen men or horses may not be attacked, but any blood flowing is believed to fertilize the soil and benefit the next harvest.

The word Pasola itself is derived from the word Sola or Hola which is the name of the blunt spears used to throw to the opposing groups of horsemen.

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