Don’t Miss Pasola Festival in Sumba Coming in March
Sumba Island in Indonesia is the location for a wild, animist festival called Pasola. Don’t’ miss this semi annual event that involves a medieval-type contest with spears and horses.
Since moving to Indonesia, a visit to Sumba Island has been very high on my list. Sumba has a list of superlatives such as the world’s best resort, Nihiwatu, and countless deserted bays and white sand beaches. There is also the UNESCO recognized Ikat weaving tradition and ancient animist beliefs that the locals live by to this day. These attractions all make this place a compelling place to visit. However, at the top of my list is the yearly Pasola festival in Lamboya. This celebration is held every year in February or March. The exact time and date remains unknown until very close to the actual dates.
The local village chiefs or rato’s determine the date based on their local calendars and in accordance with the appearance of the nyale or sea worm in the surf along the beach. Pasola derives from the word sola, which is the name for the type of wood that is used for the spears used in the festival. During the Pasola, men from different tribes in the area engage in hours of spear fighting while on horseback. If all this sounds violent, it is for good reason. Locals believe that the more blood spilled on the soil, the better the future harvests will be. It is, however, very safe if watched from a distance.
The location of Pasola in Lamboya is a large field surrounded by hills for the spectators. On the hill your clients will be very safe as a visitor. Many of the local people watch on the field and need to be careful of spears and small rocks flying around! As the event progresses, the crowds become more and more passionate in supporting their tribe and cheer loudly with every hit. However, respect for the rato’s always prevails and fighting is halted on their commands.
Only three or four Pasola events are held each year in different areas of West Sumba with Lamboya being the main one. If your travel schedule is flexible and you are in Indonesia during February or March, this is a truly unique and authentic experience that not many foreigners get to see. Our Khiri Travel Indonesia guides in Sumba are happy to take you there, and we have accommodation available in the area. Please do contact us if you wish to visit the event this coming March!
For more information about the Pasola festival or other highlights of Sumba Island, please contact to [email protected]