Discovery >

Sea Worms Herald Riotous Game in Indonesia

January 7, 2016 by Khiri Travel | Filed Under: , , , ,

Indonesia - Sport & Games -

Big contests commonly generate anticipation and excitement especially when they are the featured event of a traditional festival. In the vast archipelago of Indonesia, while there are all kinds of festivals and contests, there is only one competition that is deemed successful when blood is shed.

To call Pasola a game, a contest or sporting event is an understatement. This celebration for the annual rice harvest is more akin to staged warfare where groups of skilled horsemen from two or more villages compete against each other to settle disputes accumulated over the past year. This wild contest is held each year on Sumba Island, one of several islands in Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands, which include Bali, Lombok, Timor, Sumbawa and Flores. Sola means long wooden stick and pa indicates it’s a game.

Indonesia - Sport & Games - Pasola Festival

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the Pasola Festival since the beginning of this two-day tournament is determined only weeks in advance by the Rato, the spiritual leader of the Sumba people. The Rato waits until a colorful sea worm appears in the sea. Only appearing two days out of the year around the time of a full moon, these sea worms are the embodiment of Nyale, a beautiful sea princess who still plays an important role in the religious beliefs of Sumba islanders. When the spiritual leader confirms the sea worm’s arrival, he gives the green light for the Pasola to begin.

Villagers prepare their handmade wooden spears with a blunt tip to protect their opponents. However, there are still casualties every year, sometimes by accident and sometimes deliberately. Actually, the whole point of this riotous game is a sacrifice to spill blood on the soil to ensure a successful rice harvest. To increase the chances of bloodshed, several boxing matches are organized during Pasola where opponents wrap their hands in sharp grasses to increase the bloodletting.

Indonesia - Sport & Games - Pasola Festival

For outsiders Pasola can be a gory and chaotic event, but for the people of Sumba it’s an important recurring occasion to appease the spirit gods and ensure a plentiful harvest. Where normally your travelers are encouraged to participate in local customs and join in with the locals, this festival is one event where it’s better to be an observer on the sidelines!

For more information about tours to and festival events in Bali, Lombok, Flores or Sumba Islands, or any travel to Indonesia, please contact at [email protected]

Latest post

Elephant Trekking in Laos

Although historically known as the “Land of a Million Elephants,” Laos is gradually losing its biggest and most regal animals to human development. The Elephant Village is investing in community eco-programs in Luang Prabang to give Lao elephants a new home.

Read More

New Evening Cruise Option on Chao Phraya River

A new colonial-style dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok provides great taste as well as cultural and historical views.   The Song Fang Klong, a new colonial style cruise vessel twin-deck boat, departs from the conveniently located Kinlom Chom Saphan riverside restaurant on the Chao Phraya river, near the Banglumpoo area of […]

Read More

Infinity Pool View of UNESCO Heritage Town

The delightful Shintamani Luang Prabang is soft opening now. It is scheduled to be fully ready in late April this year.

Read More

Cha-am, Hua Hin, Pranburi: A Special Khiri Travel Inspection Report

Three hours’ drive southwest of Bangkok, Hua Hin is rightly acclaimed as an increasingly diverse, high quality seaside retreat with royal connections. For our clients it is often the perfect beach extension after an exhilarating tour around Thailand.

Read More

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our B2B newsletters are for industry professionals




*We’ll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time.