The island of Sumba is well known for its sandlewood, horses, impressive megalithic tombs, typical hand woven textile ("ikat"), and still untouched beautiful beaches.
Sumba has a unique culture and social life. The Sumbanese are traditionally divided into three level of social life : (Raja/King) - Maramba, Customary Official - Kabihu, and Slaves - Ata. The Sumbanese are living from farming, cattle breeding, rice-field farming and trading. The cattles have an important social function as they contribute to the social status of the Sumbanese.The more cattles the people process the higher their social status.
Pasola is one of the many traditional ceremonials in Sumba, and serves the celebration of rice plantation season (takes part- every year in February and March )
The ritual consists of a horse riding game, that is played by two opponent male teams, each from different clans or tribes. While riding the horses the men have to throw wooden spears towards each other. The men who join this game need to have high skills at horse riding and spear throwing.
The main activity starts after full moon and coincides with the yearly arrival of the strange and multihued sea worms - ( Sumbanese call Nyale ). The date of the event will be decided by Rato ( the priest of MARAPU = the original traditional religion of Sumba people ). Before the game starts, the Rato speaks a Prayer in between the two groups, and then throws a spear to start the game.
This ritual has a very close relationship to the habit of the people from Sumba since it determines the behavior of the people in order to keep the condition between physical , material and mental needs balanced.They believe this rituals helps them to live happily on the earth and in the heaven.
The Pasola ceremony is also closely connected to the agriculture. Sumba people believe if there is bloodshed during the game (from men who participating in the game ) then the harvest in the upcoming year will be good.