Pasola and Elections in Indonesia

From a Pasola competition (Nihi)

From a Pasola competition (Nihi)

By Eddy Suprapto (EDS)

SURABAYA, JAKARTA: Pasola is a game of dexterity throwing wooden javelins at each other from horseback which is part of the Marapu ritual ceremony.

Marapu is an indigenous religion of the archipelago which is adhered to by the people of Sumba Island. Marapu in the beliefs of the Sumba tribe is a God-like entity that is worshiped as the creator of the heavens and the earth.

Pasola is held by the people of western Sumba to celebrate the rice planting season. It is a form of ritual to honor Marapu in self-reflection to bring prosperity and abundant harvests.

Pasola is a type of blunted wooden spear thrown from a fast-moving horse to dismount the opponent, demonstrating skilled riding and accuracy. Pasola participants throw the wooden spears at each other from horseback like in battles.

Annual Pasola games are held by four villages in West Sumba district. The four villages include Kodi, Lamboya, Wonokaka, and Gaura. Pasola traditions in these four villages are carried out in turns, namely between February and March every year.

Although the agility of riding and throwing javelins at each other is like a fighter from a cavalry squad, Pasola still evokes a humanist feeling. The horsemen, after throwing javelins at each other and fighting, embrace each other and share a meal with smiles.

For residents of four villages, Pasola is an event to bond brotherhood. There are no grudges after the game is over.

Will the election contestation be like the Pasola tradition after February 14, 2024? Contestants embracing each other and eating together? Or do we as a nation that claims to be a democracy still hold grudges when we lose in election contests?

It seems we need to learn from the Pasola tradition of the Sumba tribe.

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