Pasola is derived from the world Sola or Hola meaning a kind of a long wooden stick used as a spear to fling each other by two opponent groups of horsemen. After given the prefix “Pa”, the meaning turns to be a game. Aa game which played by the Western Sumbanese to celebrate the rice planting season.
The game is played by throwing wooden spears to the opponent while riding a horse. This annual game is played by two different groups of men from different clans or tribes. The horses used for this ritual are usually ridden by the brave and skilled selected men wearing traditional customs.
Pasola is a traditional ceremony of the Sumbanese held in the way of uniquely and sympathically traditional norms, every year in February and March and has become the focus of attention of the people since it is a part of the sacred homoge to the Marapu, which is the local religion of Sumbanese indigenous people.
In its wider and deeper meanings Pasola really not only is something worth looking on but also is something worth appreciating, for there are still other elements bound tightly behind it. The people of Sumba believe that the ritual has a very close link to the habit of the people since it arranges the behavior and the habit of the people so that the balanced condition between the physical – material needs and the mental-spiritual needs can be easily created; or in other words the ritual is believed to be able to crystallize the habit and the opinion of the people so that they can live happily both in earth and in heaven. It use to end up in a bloody game when the wooden spear hit the bare flesh of the participant.
Pasola begins with the execution of customary Nyale. Traditional ceremonies Nyale is one of gratitude for the gift that is obtained, which is marked by the arrival of harvest season and marine worms are abundant at the beach. The people is held this ceremony at the time of full moon and when the sea worms (in local language called Nyale) are out on the beach.
The Rato (tribal leaders) will predict when Nyale out of the beach in the morning, after a day of getting light. After the first Nyale obtained by Rato, Nyale brought to the assembly of the Rato to be verified and researched the shape and color. When Nyale that was found is fat, healthy, and colorful, it is a sign of the year will get a good and successful harvest. On the other hand, if the Nyale is thin and fragile, then it assume to have disaster later on. Without getting Nyale, Pasola will unenforceable.
Pasola is held in vast expanse of desert, witnessed by all members of both groups that competed, the public, the foreign and local tourists. The government allows the ritual game to take place, but the spears much the blunt. Each group consists of more than 100 youths armed with spears made of wood and blunt-ended and diameter of approximately 1.5 cm. Although it is blunt-ended, this game sometimes make injuries.
If there are victims in Pasola, according to Marapu believe, the victim gets a punishment from the gods because they have already committed a violation or a mistake. Moreover, in the Sumbanese ancient beliefs, the spilled blood will fertilize the land and multiply the output of the paddy. The ceremony occurs during February in Lamboya and Kodi and during March in Gaura and Wanukaka. The precise date of the event decided by Rato during the wula podu (the month of pasola the fasting month).
Pasola is not simply be a form of crowd, but it become one of the forms of devotion and obedience to the ancestors acclamation. Pasola is a religious culture that expresses the essence Marapu believe. Pasola is become the event to unite the brotherhood between the two groups that participated in Pasola and the general public.
Furthermore, Pasola is describe the expression of gratitude and joy from local people, because the abundant harvest. Pasola can be a milestone in the progress of Sumba tourism, because of this cultural attractions is already known to many foreign tourists. Pasola may always takes risks, however, is accepted by the people in a very hospitable way and sportive.