East Nusa Tenggara: The Pasola and Nyale tradition

Pasola and Nyale tradition

The Pasola tradition is a tradition carried out by the Sumba tribe on Sumba Island, precisely in West Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara. A game of dexterity with each other throwing a javelin made of wood. Uniquely this game is carried out between two groups of horseback who are running fast. This tradition is part of the traditional ceremony of the Merapu religion (Sumba local religion) which is usually held every year between February and March in turns by four villages (Kodi, Lamboya, Wonokaka and Gaura).

The name Pasola comes from the word “Sola”. Sola is a type of wood javelin which is used to throw each other off a horse by two opposing groups. Pasola is a tradition game that combines the agility of riding a horse and throwing a javelin which is carried out as a form of welcoming the new year and harvesting in Merapu beliefs.

When the Pasola Tradition carried out?

The Pasola Tradition will begin with the Nyale Customary Ceremony which is a ritual in the belief of Merapu as a form of gratitude for the gifts that are obtained. The Nyale ceremony is marked by the arrival of the harvest season and abundant sea worms (Nyale) or out on the coast. The determination of the start of the Nyale Ritual is also very unique, there are several conditions that must be met.

At first the Rato (Tribal Leader) predicted the release of nyale in the morning, then in the afternoon by the Assembly of the Rato examined its shape and color. If the sea worms are fat and healthy and colorful, they believe it is a good sign and the harvest will succeed this year. Conversely, havoc is believed to come if the nyale obtained is thin and fragile.

Pasola held or not depends on the nyale obtained. As for the implementation, Pasola took place in a wide expanse of fields witnessed by all residents from both competing groups and the general public. The Pasola tradition has now become a unique entertainment that is able to attract many Aasing and local tourists who all enliven it.

Pasola was followed by more than 100 young men from each group, they were armed with a spear tipped with a diameter of 1.5 cm. Although blunt, this game cannot be separated from the victims. The matter is believed in Merapu’s belief, that the victim has received punishment from God for having made a mistake or sin.

Pasola’s game is very interesting, here the audience can see first-hand the Sumba Knights who are facing each other which then spur the horse agile while throwing a javelin at the enemy. The knights deftly avoided the opponent’s javelin.

The event was increasingly noisy by the whinny and thumping of thunderous hooves and shouts of participants and spectators. Uniquely if there is blood flowing, it is considered beneficial for soil fertility, which means the harvest will be successful. As for death, it is believed that there had previously been a violation of adat norms.

The Pasola tradition is not just mere entertainment. This is a cultural heritage which is a form of devotion and obedience to the ancestors. A religious culture as an expression of the core religiosity of Merapu religion. Besides that, it also functions as an interwoven fraternity of the Sumbanese community, especially between the two groups of participants.

Furthermore Pasola is also an expression of gratitude and expression of community joy associated with abundant harvests. With the growing popularity of this tradition, the progress of Sumba tourism has also increased. This attraction has become a magnet that can attract tourists to visit Sumba, both local and foreign tourists.

Covid-19 Village Lockdown, a Local Wisdom of Yogyakarta cultural

Cultural strategic to overcome the Covid-19 outbreak

The lockdown policy to deal with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia reaps the pros and cons for a long time. The government seems hesitant to take a stand because of the economic consequences, budget availability and other social problems as its derivatives. However, the news on television, radio and social media which is so intensive and excessive, sounds strong in the community, causing anxiety. In this context, the community members in the villages made decisions independently, that is, they made local lockdown decisions.

In many villages in Yogyakarta, the lockdown decision was taken after the government determined the status of the Covid-19 disaster, on March 17, 2020. The decision was also due to the people’s insistence, after Covid-19 victims in several countries had begun to fall. Whereas in Indonesia itself residents who have been infected with Covid-19, including the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Budi Karya Sumadi. Despite determining the status of the disaster, the government has not quickly made clear and firm policies regarding how to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak systematically. There is only an appeal to do social restrictions ( social distancing ), advice diligently washing hands with soap, and other educational campaigns.

While the upheaval of the Covid-19 outbreak in the community was increasingly burning, one of which was the lockdown issue which also did not raise certainty. In this atmosphere, the people in the villages who were very sensitive and responsive to the outbreak made a village lockdown policy. Village Lokcdown was carried out long before the government made a policy of Large-scale Social Enforcement (PSBB), on March 31, 2020. This PSBB policy was a form of avoiding the word lockdown which was considered more extreme, full of responsibility for fulfilling residents’ quota.

If the government avoids the word lockdown as a choice of words or policies, why do villagers actually dare to make a lockdown policy? What is the meaning of the lockdown pronunciation for residents in the village? From the developing social phenomena, this pronunciation has exceeded the meaning of regulation in the proper formal rules. This word has been contextualized according to the interests, functions and uses of the villagers. Lockdown banners in the villages side by side with sentences in other banners, ranging from lovedown village to the choice of the word satire download village. Some of them even have an economic nuance, a lockdown village: a plecit bank can get in.

This kind of social phenomenon can also be called a cultural strategy that reflects local wisdom. In this context the cultural tactics meant, the lokcdown policy as a strategy for the villagers in preventing the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak that was carried out independently. The village lockdown policy is also an ideological criticism of the government which still maintains a slow and uncertain bureaucratic culture in making policies to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.

Form of Local Wisdom

The village lockdown policy as part of the community’s cultural strategy in preventing the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, took the form of three approaches: First , control of regional surveillance. Second, monitoring the health of citizens and Third, social and economic solidarity.

Regional supervision control, as can be seen closing the various entrances and exits of the village is integrated into one door, as well as guard posts that are also installed with various village lockdown banners. The village entrance is guarded for 24 hours, as is the case for RT / RW-based patrol systems. Everyone who goes in and out is stopped to be given disinfectant fluids, especially for motorists and cars. There are also villages that use a combination of motion sensors with a disinfectant liquid tube, so anyone who enters and exits the village is automatically doused with the liquid.

This kind of surveillance control is to ensure the trace of contact of people entering the village, especially for travellers who come to the village who have the potential to infect their families and neighbours. As when two travellers from Jakarta came to my village, they lived in Yogyakarta. One of the travellers from Jakarta, because he did not want to isolate independently, eventually moved to the district of his native area outside the city.

While the other home comers from Jakarta, even though they were in good health, when they returned home, infected Covid-19 with his wife and were hospitalized. Villagers found out after the village government had received word from the hospital that there were positive citizens of Covid-19. Villagers build solidarity with each other to support their daily needs, when the village government makes a policy for the family to carry out isolation independently for 14 days to prevent transmission to other residents.

Through the cash collections (monthly contributions) of residents’ cash, the youths also spray every week to residents’ homes to eradicate Covid-19, which is likely to be attached to the doors and windows of residents’ homes and strategic places, such as other places of worship.

The most problematic in handling the Covid-19 outbreak, which concerns religious issues, such as organizing congregational prayers and Friday prayers. In the end, the influence of religious organizations’ fatwas, such as NU, Muhammadiyah and others, is very influential, whether in the village lockdown policy religious activities in the mosque are still being held or not. Through a deliberative approach to wisdom, moderate paths eventually become a common choice.

Wisdom Replication

In an atmosphere of concern due to the increasing number of citizens who have the status of People in Monitoring (ODP), Patients in Oversight (PDP) and victims died, accompanied by an atmosphere of uncertainty about the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government seems to need much to learn even to replicate the local wisdom of the community. Village management in making lockdown policies, shows a form of local wisdom that marks the alertness and speed in making decisions to protect its citizens from the threat of plague. Residents really feel directly the benefits of the village lockdown policy.

For the sake of the constitutional mandate in an effort to protect all levels of citizens, the government should not be swiftly inferior to its citizens in the villages. The government must be quick to overcome the problems that lie within its own circle, such as conflicts of interest between ministries and bureaucratic officials whose work is still slow, as seen in meeting the needs of health personal protective equipment for medical workers. Quite a few medical workers have fallen victim to Covid-19, as a result of government policy slowness.

Likewise the implementation of the social safety net program, do not let aid be misplaced, do not create justice which makes conducive atmosphere in the community torn apart by conflicting government program assistance.

We hope that the people’s trust will not fade to the government, because it could result in the work of handling the Covid-19 epidemic not to be effective. If it is symptomatically strong, then the greatest danger of this nation is no longer a corona virus, but a conflict of power which will make the suffering of the people worse.

Indonesia is fortunate to still have exemplary villages whose citizens are full of initiative, harmony, solidarity and speed of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic independently. Although it is not permissible for villagers to continue to carry out prolonged independent mitigation. In the end the state must remain present undergoing its constitutional duties.

East Sumba: “Tenun Ikat” woven fabric

East Sumba Ikat Woven Fabric and Its Creation Process

In recent years, Sumba in East Nusa Tenggara Province has indeed risen to the surface as a favorite tourist destination for many people. Including me. Some people decide to explore Sumba cause of its special landscape, cultural even woven cloth ikat.

Lambanapu and Mauliru  are villages of ikat woven fabric craftsmen whose manufacturing process uses weavers instead of machines with natural coloring. Starting from the cotton flower until becoming a beautiful Sumba woven patterned woven cloth, everything be done manually and requires a significant amount of time.

In Lambanapu, we go to Mama Dan house, one of the Sumbanese cloth craftswomen. Esy, Mama Dan’s daughter invited us to pick cotton flower. We were ready with shoes and hats. We followed the path, through the streams of clear streams and the horses that were resting in the shade of trees. They sometimes turn to us who are passing by, the horse look not surprised with people.  We also passed several rice fields and fields belonging to residents. Until suddenly the cotton trees stood tall before us.

In Sumba, mothers or children usually collect cotton flowers that are spun into yarn. The manual method of spinning yarn from cotton by hand called pahudur.

First, collect cotton from the flower and then twist into long strands. From these strands, cotton twists are tangible like thick yarn. We can roll it in a spool of yarn at this stage. Believe me, the process is actually not as simple as this. If you don’t have experience, the work of twisting and turning them into threads will take a long time. And, cotton is prone to breaking. If you break up, you have to twist from the start.

On the porch of Mama Dan’s house, I watched the ina (mama-mama) twist cotton very quickly. They are already experienced.

The typical color of indigo-colored sumba fabric does not use textile dyes as we know it, but instead uses natural dyes from nila plants. At first glance nila plants such as useless weeds, small leafy plants with small branches that branch off when mixed with lime will produce indigo colors.

Tips for those who want to help the craftsmen pull the nila plant, prepare gloves so that the hands do not hurt. Also prepare a hat because it is likely we will be in the blazing sun for a long time.

The next process is the process of spinning yarn into ball-shaped yarns called Kabukul. From the ball of yarn, the next step is pamening, arranged the threads in the loom (wooden frame, wanggi), to make easier tied threads based on the desired motif. The process took about a full day to complete one piece of cloth.

After the yarn arranged in the loom, the yarn divided into many threads that are evenly distributed, and then tied.

The process of binding these threads called hondu. In the past, the threads tied using a gewang rope (kalita), or a rope made from a palm tree. However, now, many ikat weaving craftsmen replace gewang ropes with plastic or neat ropes. The threads be bound tightly  not exposed the dyes . Not as easy as it seems, treated the string  carefully. Don’t too forced, it will brok, but if not tight, the dye can coloring it and damage the results of the ikat cloth.

After the binding process completed, next process is immersing the yarns in a natural dye mixture. The blue dye (indigo) comes from nila plants and red color comes from noni plants or kombu roots.

For strenghten the color, they ussually add a bit lime betel and hazelnut to the mixture of dye color. After soaking for overnight, drying the threads in the sun for 2-3 days.  Process immersion repeated 5-10 times to get the desired color depth.

After all the color immersion process is complete, removed the straps. Here the motifs from the ikat cloth begin to appear.  To shape the motif as desired, the color yarn be arranged on the loom and weaving process carried out to produce a beautiful fabric.

Walking around the village in the day, my journey in Lambanapu and Mauliru, from one craftsman to another, opened my eyes even wider that the East Sumba ikat woven fabric is a priceless cultural treasure.

The process and effort of creating a complicated and delicate work makes the Sumba fabric has a high value and is worth to having it.