Helloindonesia.id – Marapu is a belief in the ancestral heritage of the people of Sumba. The original belief of the archipelago is still sustainable to date, and is held firmly by some of the people of Sumba.

Traditional House Of Sumba

Marapu is formed from two words, namely mar and apu. The word mar means the creator of the universe and the source of life, while apu means grandfather. Marapu also means the one who is played or glorified.

The core teachings of the beliefs of the ancestral heritage of the people of Sumba are worship of the spirits of the ancestors. They have faith, through ancestral spirits, humans can relate to the Creator. The Sumba community believes that the ancestors who have died and are in the eternal realm can communicate with God.

This original belief is still preserved on Sumba Island until now. Marapu followers generally live together in traditional villages. Generally, traditional villages are in the lowlands and hills that are far from the center of the crowd.

Houses in a traditional village in the form of a stilt house with thatched roofs and wooden pedestals. There are two types of houses there, namely big houses (uma kalada) and ordinary houses (ana uma).

Uma kalada is the first house built by an ancestor in a traditional village. In a traditional village, there is more than one uma kalada. The big houses are inhabited by kabisu, or descendants of tribal ancestors who have traditional land. The chieftain called Rato lived in Uma Kalada with his wife and child.

Whereas uma was occupied by other Marapu believers. Even though it’s not called a big house, actually Uma has the same shape and size as Uma Kalada.

Houses in traditional villages stand parallel around a courtyard. The court is a place for holding traditional ceremonies or religious rituals at certain times.

Marapu followers have various rituals. One of them is Wulla Poddu, which is the holy month for followers of Marapu. Wulla means moon and poddu means bitter. Called bitter because all this month all citizens must abstain from a number of things. These rules must be obeyed by followers of Marapu.

As long as Wulla Poddu, Marapu adherents are not allowed to build houses, hold any parties, if anyone dies it is forbidden to beat the gong and even cry, may not have sex with a partner, and may not repair the house, especially the roof.

During the holy month, Marapu followers were also obliged to fast eating pork and dogs. They are allowed to eat vegetables, chicken and rice.

There are various rituals held during Wulla Poddu. There are rituals that aim to invoke blessings and as an expression of gratitude. Some also tell about the origin of ancestors and the process of making and birth of the first human.


Wulla Poddu is also a period of hunting wild boar. The first wild boar captured is usually used as an indicator of harvest. Male pigs, for example, are considered a sign of good harvest. While if the pigs bite people means there will be rat pests.

In this month also young people who have gone back to undergo the circumcision process. For several days, the young people who have been converted will be exiled to the wild to live independently as a sign of maturity.

The highlight of the Wulla Poddu celebration is always awaited and welcomed. The moment was so special that the people who were being monitored would return home to celebrate.

Another Marapu ritual that is no less unique is Pasola, which is a peaceful customary war. Pasola is an agility fight throwing wooden javelin while riding a horse. When the Pasola is held, each tribe will fight using horses and wooden javelins. They will be confronted with each other to throw javelins at each other towards the opponent.
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At first glance, it was scary, Pasola became the moment of adhesive for the relationship between the community of Marapu. The ritual that is held as a form of worship of the spirits of the ancestors is usually done at the beginning of the growing season every year.

Pasola is a dexterous fighting ritual typical of the Sumba community as a ceremony of worshiping the gods. (Photo: culture.kemdikbud.go.id)
Marapu followers also have a unique marriage procedure. Based on the traditions they inherited from the ancestors, dowry or belis must be given to the prospective bride’s family to the bride’s family. However, the belis delivered is not cheap.

Families of prospective grooms are usually asked to hand over belis in the form of tens to hundreds of animals, such as horses or buffaloes. The presentation must be brought before the female family when the application takes place.

What’s interesting is that the large number of belis can be paid in installments. If you have not been able to pay for everything, the male family can bring some of it first, for example 20 animals, along with mamuli (Sumba’s special jewelry). The rest is paid later.

Regular applications are carried out the day before the wedding. The wedding ceremony is held at the residence of the bride.

After a legal marriage by custom, women must go directly to the man’s house.

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